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Christian Henriot - Recherche & Publications

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Projet de recherche :

- “War made Shanghai” : Toward a spatial history of 19th-20th century Shanghai (1842-1952)

Wars have a tremendous impact on territories and their populations. Many cities were, at one point in their history, subjected to the grueling consequences of warfare. Only a few large modern metropolis have gone through such cycles of sudden and thorough destruction, followed by periods of more or less rapid reconstruction, involving a massive regeneration of their populations. In this project, we plan to demonstrate that Shanghai represents an exceptional – though unfortunate — case of an urban space that from the mid- 19th century to the late 1940s was engulfed in several conflicts. Shanghai appears in most narratives as a « success story ». A success indeed it was. And precisely, an even more astonishing success when one looks closely at the history of warfare and violence in the city. In this project, we argue that the development of Shanghai as an urban territory was conditioned by issues of defense and conflict. Shanghai thrived and prospered out of war. From the initial military foray and brief occupation by British troops in 1842 to the civil war (1945-49) and its ripples in post-war China, all through the civil rebellions (1853-55, 1860-61), revolutionary movements (1911, 1925-1927), and Sino-Japanese conflicts (1932, 1937), the city was the seat of forms of violence that affected both the spatial configuration, the distribution, composition and activities of the population, and the whole economic structure. This project proposes to explore the history of war and civilian violence in Shanghai over a long century (1842-1952) from the perspective of the spatial history and seeks to establish the determinants and modes of transformation the city that resulted from warfare. The methodological approach to be adopted fits in the realm of "digital humanities", in particular digital history.

- “Cadastres, land management and urban change in Shanghai : spatial and temporal visualization of heterogeneous series"

This project proposes to explore the urban transformation of Shanghai through the study of land management and cadastres over a century (1849-1949). We seek to establish the modes of transformation of the city with a focus on the policies and instruments designed and implemented by the foreign authorities in the city. In methodological terms, the project fits in the realm of spatial history and spatial economics, with an emphasis on geovisualization and the use of GIS. It requires collecting and processing large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data and the implementation of innovative instruments for historical research.

- “Spaces of leisure : From newspapers advertisements to « lived » and « perceived » space"

The proposed two-year program intends to establish an innovative approach to the processing of historical data from the extraction of basic units of information spread across a wide range of primary materials, to their compilation in database format, to their visualization through cutting-edge technology. It is based on the large collection of a textual data culled from four major Shanghai newspapers over a period of sixty years (1907-1966). The main corpora are the advertisements published by entertainment establishments in these newspapers. Aside from integrating these data into GIS server and web mapping, we plan to design new tools to exploit the potential of this wealth of data, especially in two main directions, visual narratives, and dynamic GIS. _