Managing Shanghai : the International Settlement administration and the development of the city, 1900-1943

  • Isabella Jackson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The Shanghai Municipal Council, which managed the International Settlement at the heart of Shanghai from 1854 until 1943, profoundly shaped the development of the city politically, socially and geographically. It was dominated by British expatriates and settlers, but they shared power with an array of other nationalities, in a unique experiment in transnational governance. This thesis provides the first in-depth study of how the council functioned in the twentieth century and how it influenced and was influenced by contemporary changes locally, nationally and internationally. It argues that the council was profoundly important in this period, much more so than has been appreciated in the literature to date. The council was both subject to colonial influence and autonomous in its activities, so is best characterised as a semi-colonial institution, a concept which is tested and defined in this thesis. This study also provides a more precise understanding of the nature of Britain's informal empire in China, which was not confined to either diplomacy or trade but was experienced first and foremost through the activities of the Shanghai Municipal Council, in the mundane matters of daily life and in the many moments of strife and tension which occurred in this period. This thesis therefore furthers our understanding of foreign imperialism in China in all its complexities, with implications for the fields of both modem Chinese and colonial history.
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRobert Bickers (Supervisor)

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