Did Victor Sassoon build his own memorial in Shanghai?

Date October 5, 2014 |

This is the argument that New York Times journalist Taras Grescoeoct makes in a recent paper on “The man who changed the face of Shanghai.” There is little that is not already known about the Peace Hotel/Sassoon House or Sir Victor Sassoon himself. The paper is part of an enduring fascination for Shanghai and the myths it still nurtures in Western imaginary. The paper unfolds a nice story about Grescoeoct’s visit of two major buildings Sir Victor Sassoon erected in the city, the Sassoon House (presently known as the Peace Hotel) and Embankment Building. To be honest, it took more than one man, however exceptional, to “change the face of Shanghai”. Yet, Shanghai afficionados will be intrigued by the idea that Sir Victor Sassoon left an indelible though discrete trace of his achievements in the city by leaving his initials VS carved in the urban landscape through the shape of these two buildings. Not convinced? Well, why not follow Grescoeoct’s steps (you will be able to enjoy a Conte Verde, courtesy of Grescoeoct to the bartender) and see for your self?

Prelude to “The French Concession and modern Shanghai” Conference

Date June 1, 2014 |

This “Prelude” is the  opening to the conference  “The French Concession and modern Shanghai” (“法租界与近代上海国际学术讨论会”分会场会议) that took place on 27-28 May 2014 in Shanghai. Two doctoral students — Liu Zhe and Jiang Jie (both IAO/ECNU) —  composed a film prelude that we are proud to present today. The conference included a full panel that took place in Lyon under the eye of the camera. It will be made available online soon.  Enjoy our Prelude !

Chinese version

French Version


“The French Concession and Modern Shanghai” International Conference

Date May 26, 2014 |

On 27-28 May 2014, the Institute of History of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Institut d’Asie Orientale (Lyon Institute of East Asian Sudies) are organizing a joint international conference on the place and role of the French Concession in Shanghai history. The venue of the conference is the historical Fujian Guild (三山會館) at 1551 Zhongshan South Road.

The conference papers cover a broad spectrum of topics. The program include 21 presentations (the working language of the conference is Chinese):




周武 上海法租界史研究的若干问题 何品
李志茗 上海早期英、法租界:制度视野下的比较分析
陈珏 上海史中的汉学与汉学史中的上海
马军 铁门续曲(1937年11月—1946年1月)——以上海南市华法交界处为主线的考察 马长林
江文君 战时上海南市难民区




江天岳 “拓垦者”与“保护神”的传说——法国首任驻华舰队司令卜罗德与上海法租界 陈同
侯庆斌 问题、史料与方法——上海法租界会审公廨(1869-1931)研究的若干思考
柯蓉 服役于上海法租界的越南警察:1906-1946——被服、安居、保健与教育 许洪新
朱晓明 上海法租界越南巡捕研究




牟振宇 开埠初期上海法侨人口、职业及社会网络(1842-1875) 李志茗
谭欣欣 秩序与意外——历史图片、图表和GIS地图中的上海法租界公共交通安全情况(1908—1937)
岳钦韬 法租界高架铁路的规划与废止——兼论上海城市周边铁路路线的形成 张笑川
陆烨 市政抗捐运动与上海法租界市民团体(1919-1937)




许洪新 论租界时期今思南公馆街区文化特点——上海法租界核心地块一居住街区的个案 冯绍霆
刘华 上海市历史博物馆馆藏法文旧书介绍
张剑 “乙酉学社丛书”翻译出版与影响——兼论知识人在战时法租界的困窘与出路 白华山
段炼 战时上海的钱币集藏 :中国泉币学社在法租界



王钰花 (Fleur Chabaille) 上海法租界与天津法租界的扩张:用连接或比较方法来分析它们的过程及方式(1861-1937)
徐翀 东南互保还是帝国竞争 ?——庚子事变时期上海法租界的防御, 1900-1903
蒋杰 法租界会审公廨、警务处与薛华立路的开发(1900-1939)
赵伟清 政治与民族敏感性:上海法租界的电影审查(1927-1943)


Shanghai photographs: new release

Date November 18, 2013 |

New set of 26 photographs on everyday life, especially peddlers, in 1933-35 Shanghai from Herbert Paul Heft, a German businessman employed at the Glathe & Witt Company from 24 May 1933 to 31 May 1935.  The collection focuses on food peddlers, but it also presents a few rare views of the Shanghai countryside

New release of Shanghai photographs

Date November 13, 2013 |

Virtual Shanghai just released a new set of 17 beautiful pictures of the Shanghai Bund and commercial streets (1936-37). These pictures were taken  by Claude Berruyer, a mechanic with the French Navy during his two-year cruise in East Asia on the Lamotte Piquet crusier. Berruyer  arrived in Shanghai on 12 August 1937, two days before the beginning of the three-month long battle between the Chinese and the Japanese armies, and he was witness to the violence of the fight (more to come in a new release).

A short biography of Claude Berruyer and related photographs

Wenhuibao Interview

Date July 24, 2013 |

On 13 July 2013, The Wenhuibao (文汇报) published  a long interview with Christian Henriot (安克强) by journalist Siwen Ren (任 思 蕴) on historical research on Shanghai, digital technologies and the use of GIS in history. The interview (in Chinese), entitled “地理 信息 系统 是 关涉到 想象力 的 技术” (GIS is a technology that relates to the imagination) was published in the “Wenhui Scholars” (文汇 学 人) section of the newspaper . The Wenhuibao  was established in 1938. Along with several other titles, the Wenhui Press Group is currently the largest press group in China. It has the largest circulation in the Shanghai region.

Research Award of the Humboldt Foundation

Date May 23, 2013 |

Christian Henriot has been awarded one of the prestigious Research Awards (Forschungspreis) of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany).

“The award is granted in recognition of a researcher’s entire achievements to date to academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.”

The Research Award was applied for by the University of Heidelberg on behalf of Christian Henriot, with the sponsorship of Prof. Barbara Mittler (Institute for Sinology). The Award is due to start in the fall of 2013.

This distinction and the planned stay of Christian Henriot in Heidelberg in 2013-2014 will strengthen the long-standing collaboration between the Lyons Institute of East Asian Studies (IAO) and the Institute for Sinology at the University of Heidelberg, in particular in the field of digital humanities jointly promoted by Prof. Christian Henriot and Barbara Mittler.


XXIth Century Shanghai: an IPRAUS–ENA-PB Project

Date February 20, 2013 |

The Virtual Shanghai platform is now home to a new project on contemporary Shanghai — 21th century Shanghai – by the Ecole nationale d’architecture-Paris-Belleville (ENA-PB) and one of its research centers IPRAUS. The management of the project is placed under the responsibility of Bernadette Laurencin, architect & associate faculty member at ENA-PB. It is based on a long-term collaboration with Tongji University in the field of graduate student training in architecture.

The materials made available on the Virtual Shanghai platform  appear separately under “IPRAUS collection” for the maps and the photographs. On Live Maps there is now a new GIS web interface that provides access to the various layers of mapping prepared by the team members. The Live interactive map covers various territorial scales: from the Yangzi Delta to the analysis of suburban cities. We plan to enrich this first publication with work produced in the course of  teaching and research, especially  a Franco-Chinese lexicon that will include descriptive vocabularies of urban sites, new detailed drawings of  new towns and other pictures to support our arguments.

This research program – AGE – Large Scale Architecture, 2007 – came from the initiative to produce spatial data on Shanghai  to tell the story of the metropolis. We selected eight qualifiers :  Water, VegetationMobilityQuality of spatial configuration, Quality of spatial practices, Heritage, Scale, and Density. We invite you to explore this new set of resources.

Please note that this section is proposed in French as it is part of both a research and training program at ENA-PB.




Shanghai Municipal Reports and Minutes on line

Date January 31, 2013 |

BN-IAO has just released is the second installment of  documents digitized in Shanghai with the collaboration of the Institute of History of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. This installment includes two essential sets, the Municipal Reports of the Shanghai Municipal Council and the Minutes of its meetings.

The current collection of Reports is not complete. It covers the years 1892-1908, 1924-1936 and 1938-1943. With the help of a British scholar, BN-IAO was able to gather a group of Reports for the period 1859-1864 and 1879. BN-IAO will supplement gradually as new copies are to be scanned.

The collection of Minutes covers the entire period of existence of the Shanghai Municipal Council from 1854 to 1943. They were established from the archives held at the Shanghai Municipal Archives.

This collection, along with the Municipal Reports of the French Concession (see previous post) and the Shanghai Political and Economic Reports produced by the UK National Archives  (14 vol., Internal consultation only) form the largest collection of  primary sources  on the foreign municipal administrations in Shanghai  before 1943, as well as on  the economic and social history of the city.

The annual reports of the Municipal Council of the French Concession on line

Date January 24, 2013 |

As part of a collaboration between the Institut d’Asie Orientale and the Institute of History (历史研究所) of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (上海社会科学院), the Virtual Shanghai Project is making available a set of annual reports (Compte rendu de la gestion) of the French Municipal Council (Commission d’administration municipale) of the former French Concession in Shanghai. The Institute of History generously made available its collection of Compte rendu de la gestion for this major digitizing operation and to share it with the worldwide community of scholars.

The current set does not include all the years during which the French Concession existed in Shanghai, but we hope to supplement our collection as we find additional issues available for digitizing. The set of Compte rendu de la gestion currently includes the following years: 1910-1926, 1929, 1932-1936, 1939-1940. All the files are available in text-searchable format.

The collection of Compte rendu de la gestion is available in BN-IAO, the digital library of the Institut d’Asie Orientale, in the Periodical section.

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