Exploring Death in Modern China

May 31, 2016 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Christian Henriot (Professor of modern Chinese history, Aix-Marseille University, France)

Chair: Elizabeth Perry (Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University; Director, Harvard-Yenching Institute)

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

The issue of death loomed large in Chinese cities in the modern era. Despite its intrinsic importance in any society and its particular importance in the historical experience of Chinese cities, however, death is basically absent from the field of Chinese urban history. Based on a study of Shanghai between 1865 and 1965, Christian Henriot explores what death meant and represented in China during a period of immense social change. The central question the talk will address is: In view of known Chinese practices about death, how did death practices adapt to a modern, urbanized environment, and how did the interactions of social organizations and state authorities manage them? It will unveil facets of urban society in a tumultuous era that radically redefined the relationship of the Chinese with death.

About the speakerChristian Henriot is Professor of modern Chinese history at Aix-Marseille University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institut Universitaire de France (2007-2012). He is the author and editor of several books on modern Chinese history, including Prostitution and Sexuality in Shanghai. A Social History, 1849-1949 (Cambridge UP, 2001), In the Shadow of the Rising Sun. Shanghai under Japanese Occupation (Cambridge UP, 2004) and Visualizing China (Brill, 2012). His latest monograph, Scythe and the city. A social history of death in Shanghai (1865-1965) is due in April 2016 at Stanford University Press. Henriot is also the author of a digital research and resource platform on Shanghai history (http://virtualshanghai.net).