05 December 2012. Ethnography - Chineseness How would you define the meaning of 'Chineseness'? Place where smells like Chinese fried rice or place where there are a lot of cell phone card sellers in Zao Yang Road?…
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One place where these trends coexist is Xintiandi. Xintiandi is a place where I found the balance of China. Though, this is my first time visiting China, I see that Xintiandi and the surrounding roads -Taikang Road and Xingye Road-define my meaning of 'Chineseness'. The surroundings of Xintiandi are something that represents the idea of being 'modern Chineseness': Taikang Road above. Xingye Road below. An analysis of Xintiandi helped me understand how the old and new cultures coexist in the bigger picture when seen in context of China as a whole. The Xintiandi area is located in Shaghai’s center toward the south of the Huaihai Middle Road. It was built between February 1999 and June 2001. The Xintiandi area starts in the east from the Huangpi South Road and continues up to the Madang Road toward the west, thus covering a total area of 30,000 m2 whereas the total construction area is 60,000 m2. I made a visit to Xintiandi last month. In this paper, I have described the activities that I witnessed at Xintiandi at different points in time. The area of Shaghai Xintiandi consists of numerous cultural legacies and historical attractions of Shanghai that make it one of the most popular urban tourist attractions in China. Originally, this area had many lanes of historic Shikumen buildings most of which were constructed during the 19th century. Presently, this area represents the way the traditional Chinese styles of construction have been combined with the foreign construction styles. The unification of the traditional Chinese and the foreign construction styles happened as a result of the construction of Xintiandi by the transformation of the old area of residence into a contemporary multifunctional center of entertainment that is equipped with numerous restaurants, boutiques, bars, and cafes of international standard. The shops retain the old Shanghai’s Shikumen housing exterior along with the antique elements of construction including the tiles and walls whereas the interiors are well-decorated and reflect the modern style of interior designing. A visit to Xintiandi provides people with an insight into the history of Shanghai during the 1920’s as well as a comprehensive idea of the contemporary lifestyle of the denizens of Shanghai. In the afternoon and before the evening sets in, Xintiandi is cold and very windy. One can witness both local people and foreigners that come to visit Xintiandi from far-off countries like the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia to enjoy both its cultural and tourist attractions. Xintiandi has something to offer to people of all ages ranging from the children to old people which is why one can see many families enjoying their time at Xintiandi. Xintiandi is visited by so many foreigners and tourists that when one pays a visit to Xintiandi, one gets confused whether it is China or some foreign country. It is not just a heavy influx of the foreigners that makes one think like this, the various facilities provided at Xintiandi and the way the place has been designed makes it quite westernized. Such facilities include but are not limited to international restaurants, bars, and beautifully decorated cafes. It gets very cold and extremely windy at Xintiandi at around 10:00 pm. I did not notice many families at that time, though I saw more couples at night at Xintiandi than I had seen during the day. I think it was so because Xintiandi provides a very romantic atmosphere to the couples. During the night, most of the people I saw at Xintiandi were Chinese and
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