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Full referenceTong, Cheuk-kei 唐卓姬, "Municipal waste management in Shanghai, 1866-1949" (2009)
Author(s)Tong, Cheuk-kei 唐卓姬
Title"Municipal waste management in Shanghai, 1866-1949"
UniversityUniversity of Hong Kong
Keywordsurban; social
AbstractWhile the subject of environmental pollution and waste management in Chinese cities has become the focus of recent scholarly studies in the fields of urban planning and environmental science, it remains a new and unexplored topic in the history of China. This study takes Shanghai as a case study to examine the history of municipal waste management in modern China. It specifically focuses on the time period between 1866 and 1949. Waste management involved the processes of collection and disposal of three main types of waste, namely sewage, night soil and garbage. With the publication of the first municipal report of the International Settlement in 1866, waste management had been playing an increasingly significant role in transforming Shanghai into a modern and hygienic city. This thesis takes a revisionist approach to argue that the foreign municipalities acted as a facilitator for the development of modern waste management rather than as an imperialist legitimising its colonial rule through sanitary policies. The foreign municipal governments - mainly the British led Shanghai Municipal Council, helped found a basis for a modern sanitary system in the foreign settlements, which the Chinese municipality subsequently adopted. Because of the exposure of Shanghai to global technological inventions and advancement, this thesis suggests that municipal waste management reached its zenith in the Republican era. The Japanese occupation from 1937 to 1945 created enormous disruption to the extant removal system. In addition to this, the demographic and economic pressures exacerbated the problem of excessive waste accumulation. The inflation rate continued to rise in post-1945, and strikes and corruption associated with garbage and night soil coolies became acute. The Guomindang’s government proved impotent as it was unable to control inflation or curb corruption. This thesis further argues that Shanghai’s municipal waste management, founded during the late Qing and reached its zenith in the Republican era, was in decline in 1949. Finally, it seeks to provide some insights into waste and its management, which was not a detached social element, but a determining factor of the changing social, economic and political conditions under three very different regimes.
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