"Tales of a City: Urban Encounters in the Travel Book Shanghai by Ellen Thorbecke and Friedrich Schiff"

Mareike Hetschold

Arrival Cities. Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies in the 20th Century, edited by Burcu Dogramaci, Mareike Hetschold, Rachel Lee, Laura Karp Lugo, Helene Roth, Leuven University Press, 2020, pp. 269–291

The travel and photo book Shanghai by Ellen Thorbecke and Friedrich Schiff portrays the urban topography of a modern metropolis. The book depicts the Shanghai of the 1930s; since then, the city has undergone massive transformations that raise the question of how its urban history can be explored from a contemporary perspective. Thorbecke and Schiff’s series of images maps an urban space that is characterised by practices of inclusion and exclusion which play out on different levels. This provokes questions about different modes of perspectivation. By choosing artists whose biographies are related to exile, flight or migration while discussing the urban cultural production in Shanghai a sharpening perspective on the abovementioned questions is offered.