New books from (on) Shanghai

In this post, I intend to introduce briefly a spate of new works produced under the energetic guidance of Prof. Ma Jun at the Institute of History (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences). Ma Jun is without contest one of the most productive historians of Shanghai. He has been unrelenting in exploring various paths of scholarly production, including self-authored monographs, editing and publishing primary materials,  compiling translated works, articles or names used in China in the late Qing and Republican periods, launching new collections of historical studies. For those who have made the Shanghai Municipal Archives their port of abode for historical research on Shanghai, Ma Jun is a most familiar figure, probably with the highest record of visits to the archives.

Just a short while ago, the Research Group on Contemporary History (现代史室) of the Institute of History (SASS) held a book presentation conference. The occasion was the publication of several volumes in the new book series on “War made Shanghai” edited by Prof. Ma Ju (马军). The book series《战乱中的上海》presents new research on the impact of war and civil violence in the history of the city, not just during the Sino-Japanese War, but throughout its history. The first three volumes of the series include a book on Civil Militia and Local Order: A Study of Shanghai Security Corps (民间武装与地方秩序:上海保卫团研究(1924-1946)by Bai Huanchuan (白华山), a  Study of Shanghai Railway Losses and its Influence during the Anti-Japanese War (抗战时期上海铁路损失及其影响研究) by Yue Qintao (岳钦韬) and Wang jingxiao (王争宵),  and a monograph on the 1950 Shanghai Bombing (1950年上海大轰炸) by Zhang Ben (张犇). The series is part of an on-going research endeavor to investigate how Shanghai fared despite, but also thanks to war from the Small Sword Rebllion in 1853-1855 to the end of the Civil War in 1949-1950.

On another front, Ma Jun has mobilized young scholars into a new enterprise, that of writing the history of the former French Concession. Betting on a new breed of France-trained historians willing to tale a critical view on Shanghai’s past and to pul the largely neglected French Concession from its historiographical obscurity, Ma Jun and Jiang Jie ( 蒋杰) (one of these young France-trained historians) have launched a new series entitled Studies on the French Concession of Shanghai (上海法租界史研究). The second volume has just come out of the press.

In the 1950s, a lot of ground of work was covered by scholars at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences that never saw the light due to political circumstances. Ma Jun has had his eyes on this trove of research for years and eventually mobilized his research group to dig up such materials. The first output is the materials scholars gathered and compiled from a wide range of sources about the labor movement in Shanghai. The minutely kept records were consigned in hand-written booklets. Only few Western scholars have had access to these materials that are now available to the scholarly community in printed book form. The final product is a five-volumes edition entitled Materials on the history of the Shanghai Labor Movement (上海工人运动历史资料):  Vol. 1 – 上海工人运动历史资料, Vol. 2 – 上海工人运动历史资料, Vol. 3 – 上海工人运动历史资料, Vol. 4 – 上海工人运动历史资料, Vol. 5 – 上海工人运动历史资料.Let us be that this will stir a new interest in the social history not just of Shanghai wrkers, but also of the companies that employed them.

Finally, Ma Jun has produced a small book for which scholars will be extremely grateful. Oe of the major headaches when reading Chinese books — past and present — and sources both in English and Chinese is to make the connection between foreign names and their Chinese transliteration. Well, let’s rejoice because Zhongguo jindaishi yiming duizhaobiao (中国近代史译名对照表) will bring much relief to this persistent headache. In line with his previous careful survey of translated works published in Chinese periodicals from the late Qing onward (the first published volume covers Japanese works), Ma Jun provides a rich curated list of foreign names of individuals and companies and their Chinese equivalents.

Cite this blog post
Christian Henriot (2017, December 16). New books from (on) Shanghai. Blog Virtual Shanghai. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from

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