Western Powers in 1920-1930 China: Focus on the Minutes of Meetings of Shanghai Municipal Council
The paper focuses on the Minutes of the Meetings (MoMs) held by the Council of the Municipality of Shanghai between 1920 and 1930. The study has a two-folded aim; in the first place, by focussing on Shanghai MoMs from the early 20th century, we delve into the evolution of the Western (largely British) management of municipal affairs on Chinese territory, paying special attention to the relations between such Western powers and local Chinese citizens at the time. Secondly, the linguistic analysis of the MoMs allows us to shed light on this textual type, with special reference to their structural and linguistic distinctiveness.
From the socio-historical point of view, the data testify to the evolving relations between the West and China; indeed, the Western ‘colonizing’ interest for China—which led to clashes between languages, cultures and powers—gradually gave way to a more collaborative attitude, increasing respect for the Chinese population and a growing sense of shared collectivity. From the linguistic point of view, the data give account of MoMs as a textual type that at the time under scrutiny had grown to be very similar to present-day MoMs, with lexical and structural specificities that position this textual type halfway between legal writing and news reporting.
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