Urban Space and Social Networks in a Port City: Reading a Cantonese Diary (1819 to 1829)


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Collaborative Reading-Workshop Grants


Fine Arts


This workshop will use the diary of a Cantonese literatus, Xie Lansheng, to explore issues related to urban space and social networks in late imperial China. Covering the years 1819 to 1829, Xie's diary provides a unique perspective on the port city of Guangzhou (Canton) on the eve of the Opium War. In the pages of the diary, Xie's social networks are constructed by his movements through characteristically urban spaces, from yamen and academies to entertainment quarters, monasteries, and the homes and firms of the city's famous maritime (Cohong) merchants. Because of Xie's deep involvement in official, academic, literary, artistic, and commercial circles, the diary requires a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative reading to be fully understood.