Virtual Shanghai just published on line the Chinese version —— 1937年8月:戰爭與平民的集體死亡 —— of “August 1937: War and the death en masse of civilians” presented by Christian Henriot at the “War in History and Memory: An International Conference on the Seventieth Anniversary of China’s Victory for the War against Japan” (戰爭的歷史與記憶:抗戰勝利七十週年學術討論會), Academia Historica 國史館 (Taipei), 7-9 July 2015.


The original English version will be published soon as well. The printed version can be found in Lü Fangshang (ed.), War in History and Memory, Taipei, Academia Historica, 2015, 492-568.

Virtual Shanghai in Chinese

There has been little activity recently on this blog due to these many factors that weigh on a scholarly life (classes, reports, dissertations, etc.). Yet we are back again and will resolutely maintain a flow of news on the Virtual Shanghai Project and its current and upcoming transformation.

We are finally very happy to announce that the platform is now available in a new Chinese interface, both in traditional and simplified characters. We still have to translate the basic texts of presentation, but this will be done incrementally. Virtual Shanghai does not have a professional translator in house. It all relies on goodwill and dedication!

And precisely, I wish to express a big thank to my former Ph.D. students Jiang Jie (蒋杰, now as postdoc fellow at Shanghai Normal University) and Zhao Weiqing (赵伟清), now a postdoc associate at IAO) for their decisive contribution in translating all the fastidious menus and forms of the platform.

Indeed, we “sinicized” not just the reader’s interface, but the entire database and its forms. The authorized contributors to the Virtual Shanghai Project can now work in a Chinese-language environment if they so choose.

To shift from one language to the other, just click on the language button in the top right corner, on top of the vertical menu.

Capture d’écran 2015-10-27 à 13.43.00
Capture d’écran 2015-10-27 à 13.43.17

We hope that this transformation will attract an increasing number of users in China, Taiwan, and more globally in East Asia. 歡迎 !

Paper in the People’s Daily

Among the various solicitations the 70th anniversary of the end of W.W.II and victory over Japan is generating in China, the People’s Daily (人民日报) asked Christian Henriot about his views on the contribution of China to W.W.II. The gist of the paper [To rember the contribution of China [to W.W.II] is also a “duty of remembrance” 铭记中国贡献, 也是记忆的责任] is to assert that in the celebrations in Europe a certain europeo-centrism tends to occult the reality that China was at war as early as 1937, that she did not receive any support from Western countries, especially the United States, before 1941, and that although its direct military effort was constrained, it did force Japan to maintain a very large army in China. Japan could simply not deploy its soldiers “stuck” in China to the other theaters of war in the Asia-Pacific area.


Revisiting the 1932 Shanghai Battle (淞滬戰爭)

On 18-19 May 2015, the French Société Asiatique (Asian Studies Society) held its annual conference at the Collège de France on “War in the societies of the Orient and the far East.” The conference brought together a wide array of scholars across time periods and boundaries, from ancient Egypt to medieval India, from the Ottoman empire to Vietnam. This provided the “War made Shanghai” group to present for the first time a work in progress on the 1932 Shanghai Battle.

The presentation is based on unique Japanese military sources, including a full set of battle maps, a complete case study of the conflict produced for the training of Japanese officers, multiple visual documents, graphs, etc. The various materials have been processed through GIS into an integrated database. The main line of inquiry was to explore a core question: What does spatial approach bring into the analysis and interpretation of the Shanghai Batttle ? At this preliminary stage of analysis and interpretation, we contend that spatial analysis reveals patterns of warfare that highlight a combination of the use of modern weaponry (mass destruction, mobility) and past military strategy models (trench war) that reflected the nature of the battle ground. The contending parties met with a difficult and challenging terrain that played to the advantage of the disadvantaged Chinese troops and stalled Japanese battle plans and tactics which the latter overcame only through a massive input of weaponry.

Three people were involved in the preparatory work of this presentation, Christian Henriot (IAO), Zhang Peiyao (postdoctoral fellow, IAO), and Charlotte Aubrun (GIS specialist, IAO). The presenters were graced with the presence of two major historians of China in France, Prof. Alain Roux and Prof. Xiaohong Xiao-Planes (with whom they enjoyed a happy lunch).


Werner von Boltenstern Shanghai Photograph and Negative Collection

Just recently, an unexpected email message led me to discover a new collection of photographs on wartime Shanghai. The William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University has released a very rich series of photographs taken in the late 1930s and early 1940s, presumably by Werner von Boltenstern (1904-1978), the initial donator of a million postcard collection to the university.

The collection covers a wide variety of topics, including the everyday life of the refugee Jewish community, Western schools, street scenes, Chinese shops, etc. The collection is available on the web site of the library.

Although the librarians have already enriched the photographs with useful metadata, they are striving to further improve and correct the metadata through crowdsourcing. The whole collection is available on Flickr where readers can leave messages and add information. This is a very welcome initiative that will hopefully attract a lot of feedback.

151 Tong Fu Mi Hao rice store, Shanghai, China

151 Tong Fu Mi Hao rice store, Shanghai, China

Sad day

It is a sad day for all those who believe in the value of intellectual debate, the free flow of ideas, and human courage. Weapons can kill people, not the ideals they died for. Those who attacked Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, and killed journalists are just plain cowards. Cowards will never win.


French national TV station FR3 on the Lyon exhibition of the T’ou Sè Wè figurines

French national TV channel FR3 broadcasted a reportage during its prime time 7:00-8:00 news on the Lyon exhibition of the T’ou Sè Wè figurines. The exhibition takes place at the Musée des Tissus et des Arts décoratifs from 5 December 2014 to 11 January 2015.

FR3 Reportage

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 16.01.08

The exhibition is organized under a partenership between the Musée des Tissus et des Arts décoratifs and Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (Institut d’Asie Orientale).

The People’s Daily at the T’ou Sè Wè wood figurines exhibition

The People’s Daily (人民日报) was present at the opening of the exhibition of the T’ou Sè Wè wood figurines (土山湾孤儿院) at the Musée des Tissus et des Arts décoratifs in Lyon.

The People’s Daily published a report on its Chinese language web site with photographs of the people in attendance at the press conference.

The exhibition is organized under a partnership between the Musée des Tissus et des Arts décoratifs and Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (Institut d’Asie orientale)