Opium / Leisure / Shanghai: Urban Economies of Consumption

Alexander Des Forges

in Opium Regimes

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9780520220096
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924499 | DOI:
Opium / Leisure / Shanghai: Urban Economies of Consumption

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This chapter focuses on the consumption of opium to explore the opulent world of high-class recreational consumption in coastal Shanghai. It explains that although at one level opium may have been tainted as a noxious foreign substance, it enjoyed a conspicuous place in the new urban culture of leisure which the hybridizing environment of Sino-foreign contact was creating. The chapter notes that the culture of consumption and enjoyment which occurred in Shanghai would never have happened without the opium that was streaming in from India, through Hong Kong and the treaty ports, as well as over the northwest border. Moreover, opium would not have continued to spread within China without the effective demand that made its appropriation by the culture of consumption possible.

Keywords: opium; leisure; coastal Shanghai; new urban culture; India; Hong Kong; China; recreational consumption

Chapter.  8110 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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