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Exotic Commodities Modern Objects and Everyday Life in China

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ISBN-10: 0231141165

ISBN-13: 9780231141161

Edition: 2007

Authors: Michael J. Dwyer, Frank Dik�tter, Frank Dikötter

List price: $70.00
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Exotic Commoditiesis the first book to chart the consumption and spread of foreign goods in China from the mid-nineteenth century to the advent of communism in 1949. Richly illustrated and revealing, this volume recounts how exotic commodities were acquired and adapted in a country commonly believed to have remained "hostile toward alien things" during the industrial era. China was not immune to global trends that prized the modern goods of "civilized" nations. Foreign imports were enthusiastically embraced by both the upper and lower classes and rapidly woven into the fabric of everyday life, often in inventive ways. Scarves, skirts, blouses, and corsets were combined with traditional garments to create strikingly original fashions. Industrially produced rice, sugar, wheat, and canned food revolutionized local cuisine, and mass produced mirrors were hung on doorframes to ward off malignant spirits. Frank Diktter argues that ordinary people were the least inhibited in acquiring these products and therefore the most instrumental in changing the material culture of China. Landscape paintings, door leaves, and calligraphy scrolls were happily mixed with kitschy oil paintings and modern advertisements. Old and new interacted in ways that might have seemed incongruous to outsiders but were perfectly harmonious to local people. This pragmatic attitude would eventually lead to China's own mass production and export of cheap, modern goods, which today can be found all over the world. The nature of this history raises the question, which Diktter pursues in his conclusion: If the key to surviving in a fast-changing world is the ability to innovate, could China be more in tune with modernity than Europe?
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Book details

List price: $70.00
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 3/27/2007
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Size: 7.75" wide x 10.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 3.234
Language: English

He practices architecture & interior design in New York City & elsewhere. He has written on the history of American architecture for Traditional Building & The Classicist.

Illustrations and Credits
Material culture in modern China
The fictions of 'authenticity', 'hybridity' and 'acculturation'
The limits of 'emulation', 'consumption' and 'representation'
Things and people
Worship of the tangible
The sources
Dissemination: Networks and Materials
The Domestication of Foreign Goods
Exotic commodities in late imperial China
Export commodities in late imperial China
Copy culture and the Movement for National Goods
The Dissemination of New Objects
Retailing the modern
Recycling the modern
Exhibiting the modern
The graphic revolution
From Water to Wheel
Motors in waterland
Highway to heaven
Rickshaw China
On your bicycle
Cars to die for
The ubiquitous omnibus
Riots at the station
Flying chariots
Changing Cityscanes
Electricity, Telephone and Water
A nation electrified
Water from the dragon's mouth
Electric words, wonder of all wonders
Appropriation: People and Objects
The permeable house survives
The solid house spreads
A glass world
Locking up
Changing interiors
Kerosene, torchbearer of modernity
The hidden powers of domestic objects
Clothing and Grooming
Cotton, the fabric of everyday life
From bound feet to leather shoes
A whiff of modernity
Trinkets for the poor, watches for the rich
Eating and Drinking
Eating modernity
Eating out
Drinking cultures
Seeing and Listening
The camera and the second I
Magic lanterns and moving pictures
Singing machines: the gramophone and the radio