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Shanghai SplendorEconomic Sentiments and the Making of Modern China, 1843-1949$
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Wen-hsin Yeh

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249714

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249714.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

The Material Turn

The Material Turn

(p.9) Chapter 1 The Material Turn
Shanghai Splendor

Wen-hsin Yeh

University of California Press

In hindsight, it seems obvious that a salient feature of China's twentieth-century concerns was the rise of economism and the challenge it presented to morality. Under Chinese Communism, economic issues not only defined the Party line and dominated the state agenda, but also functioned as the most important set of constitutive factors in the determination of individual social identity. This chapter examines the maritime merchants who appeared along the China coast in the decades after the Opium War (1839–42). These merchants, many of them comprador agents for foreign firms in Shanghai, evolved from the culturally compromised to the officially honored by the late nineteenth century. Late imperial China had developed one of the world's most sophisticated mercantile economies, in which commercial wealth and official honor coexisted.

Keywords:   capitalism, maritime merchants, economism, Opium war, commercial wealth, imperial China

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