An Italian 'Neighbourhood' in Tianjin: Little Italy or colonial space
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- Twentieth-century Colonialism and China: Localities, the everyday, and the world, 2012, 1, pp. 92 - 107
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The only Italian concession in China was located in the Hebei district of the modern municipality of Tianjin from 1901 until 194 7. It was also the only example of Italian colonialism in Asia. Through the historical investigation of the former Italian concession, from its acquisition to its socio-spatial reorganisation as a 'laboratory of modernity' (Stoler 1995: 13-26), this chapter emphasises the imposed notion of the concession as an Italian-style 'neighbourhood': a miniature Disneyland-style venue of'Italianness' or 'Italian spirit' (Italianita). Focusing on the conceptualisation of the concession as a 'neighbourhood' and not a colony, Italy tried to give shape to a short-lived, although in colonial terms glorious, project: the 'neighbourhood' was meant to establish Italy's status and prestige among the other colonial powers operating in China at the time.
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