Between Heaven and Modernity

Reconstructing Suzhou, 1895-1937

Combining social, political, and cultural history, this book examines the contestation over space, history, and power in the late Qing and Republican-era reconstruction of the ancient capital of Suzhou as a modern city. Located fifty miles west of Shanghai, Suzhou has been celebrated throughout Asia as a cynosure of Chinese urbanity and economic plenty for a thousand years. With the city’s 1895 opening as a treaty port, businessmen and state officials began to draw on Western urban planning in order to bolster Chinese political and economic power against Japanese encroachment. As a result, both Suzhou as a whole and individual components of the cityscape developed new significance according to a calculus of commerce and nationalism. Japanese monks and travelers, Chinese officials, local people, and others competed to claim Suzhou’s streets, state institutions, historic monuments, and temples, and thereby to define the course of Suzhou’s and greater China’s modernity.  —Stanford University Press


Peter Carroll
Stanford University Press
July 2006

Peter J. Carroll (PhD Yale, 1998) specializes in the social and cultural history of 19th and 20th century China. His research interests include urban history, Chinese modernism, popular and material culture, gender/sexuality, and nationalism. A two-time Fulbright recipient, he has also held fellowships with the Project on Cities and Urban Knowledges, International Center for Advanced Studies, New York University; the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center; and the Centers for Chinese Studies at the National Central Library, Taibei, Taiwan, and at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, he has been a visiting scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. He is currently working on a book project on suicide and ideas of modern society in China during the first half of the 20th century.