Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China (Intellect Books, 2020) is an exploration of China’s cultural economy over the last twenty years, particularly through the lens of its creative hub of Shanghai. The research presented here raises questions about the nature of contemporary ‘creative’ capitalism and the universal claims of Western modernity, offering new ways of thinking about cultural policy in China.
Taking a long-term historical perspective, Justin O’Connor and Xin Gu analyze the ongoing development of China’s cultural industries, examining the institutions, regulations, interests, and markets that underpin the Chinese cultural economy and the strategic position of Shanghai within it. Further, the authors explore cultural policy reforms in post-colonial China and articulate Shanghai’s significance in paving China’s path to modernity and entry to global capitalism. In-depth and illuminating, Red Creative carefully situates China’s contemporary cultural economy in its larger global and historical context, revealing the limits of Western thought in understanding Chinese history, culture, and society.
Dave O'Brien is Chancellor's Fellow, Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Edinburgh's College of Art.