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School of History and Sociology

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Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    Engineering Shanghai: Water, sewage, and the making of hydraulic modernity
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2019-05-08) Shen, Xincheng
    This dissertation explores the water technologies in Shanghai from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and in what ways the infrastructures – the drainage system, the water supply, culverted rivers, the water closet, and the water-carriage sewer system – played a role in the shaping of the cityscape, economics, and politics of Shanghai. While previous scholarship has engaged the social aspect of city water engineering, especially with respect to hygiene and its relation to growing state intervention, this dissertation focuses on the engineering work itself, indicating that the concept of being modern might be an aspiration, but it was the material and practical aspects of water engineering that laid the ground and set the rules for government intervention. Only within the spatial and economic limits allowed by the engineering feasibility could the authorities materialize political influence. Following the Introduction, Chapters 2-5 discuss components of the engineering system in Shanghai – drainage, waterworks, culvert, and sewage treatment. An exhaustive look at the technical details provides us with better explanations as to why foreign technologies were accepted and in what context decisions were made by authorities. Despite these works being the embodiment of state-of-the-art Western knowledge, what facilitated their local adoption were practical and mundane concerns. Chapters 6-8 discuss how economics competition and political struggle prior to WWII played out in the context of growing engineering sophistication between actors such as corporations, consumers, political authorities from the city to the state, and from Chinese to foreigners. Chapter 9 offers a criticism about the ill-fitting, conventional concept of modernity for China studies and calls for a new theoretical framework within which the question of development could be answered in light of the incremental improvements in engineering practices. The thesis of this research is to propose the concept of hydraulic modernity. The contention here is that practical aspects of the technocratic-engineering system of city water dictated the pattern of engineering works and consequently influenced how political and economic capital were organized for the system to achieve greater capacity and homogeneity, the two criteria used to measure the development of a system in this dissertation. The former indicates the maximum output of an engineering system and the latter points to the reduction of the number of heterogeneous interest groups inside a technocratic-engineering system in order to lower the risk of malfunction. Modernization of Shanghai was not driven by top-down infusion of knowledge, etiquette, and ideology, but a process of meticulous interconnection of layers of technocratic-engineering systems, upon which further institutionalization of social actors was able to come into being.
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    Consuming science: A history of soft drinks in modern China
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2016-01-14) Yao, Liang
    This dissertation investigates the development of the soft drink market in China from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, with particular attention to the rise of Coca-Cola. It examines how soft drinks competed with traditional Chinese summer food and beverage such as watermelons, herbal tea, plum juice, and nutriments which were believed to have medical properties for people’s summer health, and eventually became one of the most popular types of beverages in the country. Over one hundred years in the Chinese minds, soft drinks changed from an exotic but unsavory beverage to a popular drink and a symbol of modernity. This dissertation argues that western science competing with traditional Chinese medicine has been a driving force in shaping beverage consumption in modern China. There were constant politics played by the state, businesses, and consumers on production, marketing, and consumption of soft drinks, making a bottle of drink not merely a commodity but one that embodied science, modernity, and identity in Chinese society. Following the introduction chapter, chapter 2 of the dissertation delineates the clash between Chinese and western food culture in the late nineteenth century. It shows how traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) including the yin-yang theory and the concept of medicine-food homology played a role in shaping Chinese food culture for centuries. By analyzing advertisement, chapter 3 examines how soft drinks, which were considered by Chinese people as an unpleasant and unhealthy drink according to TCM, were marketed and gradually accepted as a hygienic and healthy drink under the rhetoric of modernization. Since foreign-brands such as Coca-Cola were luxuries, cheap imitations provided ordinary Chinese people, especially urbanites, opportunities to experience “modernity.” Chapter 4 discusses the culture of imitation in modern China in regard of soft drinks. In the first half of the twentieth century, consumption were politicized in National Products Movements, in which soft drink brands were categorized into either Chinese or foreign and people’s loyalty to the nation was, to some extent, judged by their brand choice. However, there was something far more than nationalism that played a role in the picture. Taking the Shanghai Coca-Cola protest of 1947 as a case study, chapter 5 reveals that Chinese nationalism in National Products Movements in the late forties was used by Chinese businessmen to advance themselves in business competition. When political conflicts became a major theme in Maoist China, Coca-Cola was criticized as a symbol of imperialism and driven out of China. Nevertheless, science-driven consumption did not fade away. Chapter 6 shows that instead of promoting Coca-Cola, the People’s Republic of China “invented” salty soda as a prevention and treatment of heat stroke and widely distributed it among workers as a socialist welfare in summer. The final chapter discusses the return of Coca-Cola in the post-Mao era. It shows that science and modernity was a consistent subject in production and consumption in China, where the state promoted it cautiously due to political sensibility while ordinary Chinese people embraced it enthusiastically with little resistance.
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    "The wheels that transformed the city: the historical development of public transportation systems in Shanghai, 1843-1937"
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2010-09-03) Zhou, Fang
    The city of Shanghai was transformed from a treaty port of around half a million people when the British first arrived after the end of the Opium War to become the most populous, prosperous, and cosmopolitan metropolis in China by the early 20th century. The development of public transportation systems contributed significantly to the urban expansion and growth of the city, as well as in reshaping the city's identity. This dissertation examined the impact of public transportation on the urban landscape of Shanghai by focusing on three major issues: "tradition versus modernity", state and society relations, and the relationship between technology and society. As a divided city governed by three separate political jurisdictions, Shanghai offered a unique perspective in understanding the roles public transportation and urban planning played in changing a city's layout. This dissertation addressed the specific differences in the development of urban infrastructure and its impact on population growth, mobility and accessibility, and economic prosperity of the British controlled International Settlement, the French Concession, and the Chinese city. The first half of the dissertation analyzed the roles in which "traditional" man-powered vehicles such as the wheelbarrow, sedan chair, horse-drawn carriage, and rickshaw played, before delving into the arrival of "modern" machine-powered vehicles such as automobiles, trams, trolleys, and buses in the early 20th century. Each form of transportation vehicle is discussed for its specific role, and the type of clientele it catered. This dissertation argued that man-powered vehicles and machine-powered vehicles did not necessarily compete with each other for passengers, as each type of vehicle served its specific purposes and clients. Public transportation; just like food, clothing, or housing is a form of material culture where one's socioeconomic or class status is revealed by the type of transport one chooses. Because the different types of vehicles did not directly compete with each other, they all saw significant increases in ridership. The 'tradition versus modernity" theme is aimed at addressing the bigger picture of "continuity and change", where Shanghai was transformed by foreign influences yet at the same time it still retained traditional Chinese characteristics to form a complex identity. The second half of the dissertation dealt with state and society relations, and the relationship of technology and society. The issue of public versus private responsibility is addressed with historical analysis of government orchestrated urban planning and the private sector providing the services to fulfill the people's needs and demands. In focusing on these two themes, this dissertation argued that technology has inherent political agenda attached to it, as government policies specifically created areas of the city which had better public transportation infrastructure, which led to these parts of the city being more commercially prosperous and vibrant than others. Routes, lines, and stops were designated with specific political purposes in mind, and public transportation accessibility contributed to the uneven economic developments across the city. The Greater Shanghai Project of 1927-1937 was a specific attempt by the Chinese government to create a new city center that could shift the population away from the foreign concessions into the Chinese territories. This dissertation argued that this campaign would not have been feasible even without the Japanese attack due to insufficient public funds. The findings in this dissertation will hopefully add to the scholarship on the history of Shanghai and the history of technology in China.