Friday, 1 May 2015

Conference abstract: "The evolution of Chinese public gardens in the concessional Shanghai, 1840-1940"

Representation of the Yuyuan 豫园 in Shanghai, 1884 申江名胜图说 p83

New approaches in Chinese garden history, conference abstract

19th June 2015, at the University of Sheffield

Mo Fei, PhD candidate, University of Sheffield, UK

"The evolution of Chinese public gardens in the concessional Shanghai, 1840-1940"

The Chinese notion of public recreation changed dramatically after the establishment of English, French and American concessions in Shanghai from the 1840s. Traditional public spaces for recreation did not satisfy the evolving social demands for recreation, particularly after the opening of the Public Garden on the Bund by the British in 1868. The majority of the Chinese were not allowed to access, but it triggered a general desire to experience foreign gardens and increased tensions between Chinese and foreign communities in the use of public open space, particularly as the Chinese, rather than foreigners, contributed the majority of rates in the foreign concessions. From the 1870s to the 1920s, privately owned ‘commercial’ gardens acted as public gardens for the Chinese population, as well as traditional sites such as temple compounds. The Nationalist Government of Republican China elected at the end of the 1920s first provided the conditions to develop municipal parks. In the post concessional period after 1943, the Chinese government developed transformed foreign and Chinese public gardens, parks and recreation grounds into park systems for the benefit of the population.

See Mo Fei's profile here.

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