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 Featured Title
The Business of Culture
Cultural Entrepreneurs in China and Southeast Asia, 1900-65
Christopher Rea   Nicolai Volland  

$95.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 12/15/2014
ISBN: 9780774827805    

$34.95 Paperback
Release Date: 7/1/2015
ISBN: 9780774827812    

348 Pages

Contemporary Chinese Studies series


About the Book

From the late nineteenth- to the mid-twentieth century, changes in mass media, transportation, and communication technologies provided unprecedented opportunities for the entrepreneurially minded in China and Southeast Asia.

The Business of Culture examines the rise of these "cultural entrepreneurs," Chinese business people who risked financial well-being and reputation by investing in multiple enterprises to build cultural, social, or financial capital. Featuring ten interlinked case studies, this volume introduces readers to three distinct archetypes who emerged during this time: the cultural personality, the tycoon, and collective enterprise. These include the likes of Lü Bicheng, a famous classical poet, who parlayed her literary prestige into a career as the principal of a Beijing girls’ school and then used her business fortune to build a high-profile persona as a glamorous foreign correspondent; Aw Boon Haw, the "tiger" behind the Tiger Brand pharmaceutical company; and the Shaw Brothers, ethnic Chinese filmmakers and exhibitors who drew thousands of people out each night to watch movies in Singapore and British Malaya.

Collectively, these portraits reveal how changes in social and economic conditions created the fertile soil for business success; conditions that are similar to those emerging in China today.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Rea is an associate professor of Asian studies at the University of British Columbia.

Nicolai Volland is an assistant professor of Asian studies and comparative literature at the Pennsylvania State University.

Contributors: Chua Ai Lin, Robert Culp, Grace Fong, Michael Gibbs Hill, Eugenia Lean, Christopher A. Reed, Sin Yee Theng, Wang Gungwu, and Sai-Shing Yung

Table of Contents

by Wang Gungwu

Introduction / Christopher Rea and Nicolai Volland

1 Enter the Cultural Entrepreneur / Christopher Rea

Part 1: Cultural Personalities

2 Between the Literata and the New Woman: Lü Bicheng as Cultural Entrepreneur / Grace Fong
3 The Butterfly Mark: Chen Diexian, His Brand, and Cultural Entrepreneurism in Republican China / Eugenia Lean
4 Culture by Post: Correspondence Schools in Early Republican China / Michael Gibbs Hill

Part 2: Tycoons

5 Aw Boon Haw, the Tiger from Nanyang: Social Entrepreneurship, Transregional Journalism, and Public Culture / Sin Yee Theng and Nicolai Volland
6 One Chicken, Three Dishes: The Cultural Enterprises of Law Bun / Sai-Shing Yung and Christopher Rea

Part 3: Collective Enterprises

7 Local Entrepreneurs, Transnational Networks: Publishing Markets and Cantonese Communities within and across National Borders / Robert Culp
8 Cultural Consumption and Cosmopolitan Connections: Chinese Cinema Entrepreneurs in 1920s and 1930s Singapore / Chua Ai Lin
9 Cultural Entrepreneurship in the Twilight: The Shanghai Book Trade Association, 1945-57 / Nicolai Volland

Epilogue: Beyond the Age of Cultural Entrepreneurship, 1949-Present / Christopher A. Reed and Nicolai Volland

List of Contributors


"The voices, lives, and enterprises that emerge from this delightful volume are vivid and illuminating -- a captivating read."
- Thomas Mullaney, author of Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China

"The Business of Culture guides readers through the historical transition of the late imperial ‘man of letters,’ to the ‘cultural entrepreneur’ enabled by new technologies, followed by the PRC’s ‘worker in the arts,’ and concluding with the reemergence in China of the kinds of cultural entrepreneurship that had developed in other sinophone countries. Edited by two distinguished scholars, this volume will be essential to those studying the history of culture and commerce in China and Southeast Asia."
- Richard King, author of Milestones on a Golden Road: Writing for Chinese Socialism, 1945-80

Sample Chapter

Sample Chapter [PDF]

Related Topics

Asian Studies
History > Other

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of The Business of Culture from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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