E p i lo g u E
In spring 2003, just before the Lunar New Year, I received an
email message from a friend who had been a student at the
Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Along
with the usual New Year’s pleasantries, he forwarded to me a
parody piece titled “The Absolutely Authoritative World Map,
Shanghai Edition” (Juedui quanwei shijie ditu shanghaiban).
The phrase “Shanghai Edition” instantly reminded me of the
term haipai, the “Shanghai style” of perpetual curiosity, stud-
ied embracement, and partial domestication of things per-
ceived to be novel or different—sometimes in surprisingly
creative ways.
In keeping with the irreverent haipai tradition, the map
took the liberty of reinventing and renaming after a different
country or region in the world each of the nineteen adminis-
trative districts of Shanghai. Whereas the downtown districts
became Britain, Germany, the United States, Austria-Hungary,
France, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Italy, and
Turkey, the five suburbs were relabeled South Korea, India,
Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa. Chongming District,
which is an island off the shore of Shanghai, was dubbed “Cen-
tral Africa.” The anonymous author of the parody explained
that “like many central African countries, Chongming Dis-
trict is rich in natural resource and cheap labor, its people are
simple and innocent . . . and there are many nature reserves.”
This type of caricature was applied to each district-country.
The description of the downtown Huangpu District, or
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