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Shanghai Savage

Shanghai Savage positions 11:1 Spring 2003 difference of the Taiwanese “barbarians.” For Xu, such forms of violence and image-making mark a difference so extreme that the civilized and the savage are filled with utter hatred for each other, making them “fight to the death” should they encounter each other.2 Ling Changyan identified this fascination with “barbarous landscapes” of “primitive desire” in a 1934 text as a specifically urban phenomenon, claiming that “modern life’s essential element is the return to primitive savagery.”3 Yet perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the essential element of primitive savagery was its circulation within modern life. For many of these texts and images were produced abroad, and many others were produced all over China, but the Shanghai media during this period showed a strong interest in collecting, sometimes sponsoring, and publishing such representations. Under the epithets savage and primitive, such representations conflated not only the peoples of China’s frontier regions, but also the peoples of Africa and the South Pacific. (In order to avoid a tedious overuse of scare quotes, I will assume the reader’s awareness of the racist connotations of savage, primitive, and civilized, and that my attempt to read Republican Shanghai http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-11-1-91
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

positions 11:1 Spring 2003 difference of the Taiwanese “barbarians.” For Xu, such forms of violence and image-making mark a difference so extreme that the civilized and the savage are filled with utter hatred for each other, making them “fight to the death” should they encounter each other.2 Ling Changyan identified this fascination with “barbarous landscapes” of “primitive desire” in a 1934 text as a specifically urban phenomenon, claiming that “modern life’s essential element is the return to primitive savagery.”3 Yet perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the essential element of primitive savagery was its circulation within modern life. For many of these texts and images were produced abroad, and many others were produced all over China, but the Shanghai media during this period showed a strong interest in collecting, sometimes sponsoring, and publishing such representations. Under the epithets savage and primitive, such representations conflated not only the peoples of China’s frontier regions, but also the peoples of Africa and the South Pacific. (In order to avoid a tedious overuse of scare quotes, I will assume the reader’s awareness of the racist connotations of savage, primitive, and civilized, and that my attempt to read Republican Shanghai

Journal

positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2003

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