Where She Lived

At the time of Ling long magazine's publication in the 1930s, Shanghai represented the image of the modern city, perhaps more than any other city in East Asia. Shanghai hosted economic investors from all over the world. It was home to the tallest building in East Asia, the twenty-story Park Hotel. Jazz musicians traveled from the United States to play in Shanghai music halls. Even Charlie Chaplin graced Shanghai screens with his image and Shanghai soil with a visit in 1936.



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Ling long magazine packaged this Shanghai modernity for women living inside and outside China. The magazine even included photographs of women from cities such as Beiping (today's Beijing), Tianjin, Qingdao, and Guanzhou. The Ling long woman was a cosmopolitan urbanite. She looked upon her rural Chinese sisters with pity and condescension, through the same eyes that she used to view women in "uncivilized" parts of the world such as Africa. She may have felt superior to Chinese women who lived in the countryside, but she also felt that they were part of a single nation. And while the Ling long woman embraced foreign movies, customs, and cosmetics, she could just as easily endorse a call for national unity against foreign imperialists.

The editors and writers of Ling long magazine lived in this modern, cosmopolitan, urban world of money, jazz, cinema, and imperialism, but they also lived in the alleyways of Shanghai. Most Shanghai urbanites lived in lilong fangzi lilong fangzi (alleyway homes). Originally designed in the nineteenth century, the alleyway house took the Chinese vernacular courtyard house and built it in identical rows, creating a new Shanghai urban style. As the population of Shanghai swelled, new alleyway homes were built ever smaller, to accommodate more people in the same amount of space. As space became even more precious, families would often sublet rooms to other people. Although Ling long editors and writers probably lived under these crowded conditions themselves, they presented a vision of modern urban and domestic life on the pages of the magazine that was hygienic, orderly, and free from clutter.

Related articles from Ling long (English translation)
"A Corner Dressing Table" (1931)

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