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TitleDigging Up Lost Billboards: A Photographic Archaeology of Outdoor Advertising in Early Twentieth-Century Shanghai
AuthorArmand, Cécile
Date2018
Keywordsarchaeology ; consumer culture ; outdoor advertising ; Shanghai ; urban history ; visuality
AbstractThis paper proposes a photographic archaeology in order to explore the material, visual and social impact of outdoor advertising in early twentieth-century Shanghai. Combining statistical analysis with photographic series and multimedia sourcing, the archaeological approach helps excavate the multilayered texture of advertisements. As material artifacts, advertisements are interwoven with urban spaces and municipal policies, closely tied to the social life of commodities and the companies’ strategies. Although outdoor advertisers played a significant role in reshaping commercial cultures and urban society in early twentieth-century Shanghai, photographic evidence complicates the picture of the growing commercialization of the city, the increased commodification of residents’ everyday life and the rise of a “consumer society” in modern China. The photo-archaeological method offers a fresh perspective on modernity, consumption, urban culture and visuality in modern Chinese history.
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To cite this article:  Cécile Armand (2018) Digging Up Lost Billboards: A Photographic Archaeology of Outdoor Advertising in Early Twentieth-Century Shanghai, The Chinese Historical Review, 25:2, 118-142, DOI:10.1080/1547402X.2018.1522819 

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