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Virtual Hankou

On the basis of the experience of Virtual Shanghai, Virtual Hankou plans to use the same methodology and tools; it also aims at producing new historical knowledge through visual documents.

The elaboration of new platforms devoted to other Chinese cities – beginning with Hankou and Tianjin – will enable us to conduct comparative studies. All three platforms will be operating on the same virtual database, with documents from the various databases made available for research across projects. In trms of temoral coverage, Virtual Hankou will focus on a large period from the mid-nineteenth century to nowadays. Before W.W.II the three Chinese cities under study all had foreign settlements. In Hankou, five settlements were established: British, Russian, French, German and Japanese. They covered an area of 2.2 km². One of the first angle of research will be to focus on these foreign settlements and to compare their situation in different cities.

Hankou is a city very much understudied, especially in France. Available sources are not so numerous and publications are scarce. This project has started with the documents collected for the writing of our Ph.D. dissertation “The French Concession of Hankou: From Condemnation to the Appropriation of Heritage”. Although this study made an extensive use of photographs and cartographic sources, the methodology was not based on the systematic use of visual documents. The establishment of the Virtual Hankou platform will enable us to explore the potentialities of the collected materials: Chinese and foreign cartographic representations of the city as well as historical photographs. On top of the maps from Chinese and French archives, we plan to collect more documents, especially from the British Archives to expand the spatial coverage. As far as photographs are concerned, a new previously unseen private collection of over a thousand photographs covering half a century (first twentieth century) will provide a precious set of photographic evidence. We just acquired a new collection of about 300 historical photographs that will be also included along with a wide range of more recent photographs.

Dorothée Rihal , CNRS

Institut d'Asie Orientale

Last update Wednesday 7 April 2010 by C. Henriot