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The Teahouse

by: Di Wang

Stanford CA: Stanford University Press 2008, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-0-8047-9103-8

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2019 Issue: 26(2) page(s): 27

Subtitled: Small Business, Everyday Culture, and Public Politics in Chengdu, 1900 - 1950, archival sources illuminate the author, a professor of History at Texas A&M University and explore his many visits to China in this first book-length history of Chinese teahouses examining their economic, social, political, and cultural changes in China’s public life in one Chinese city in the Sichuan Province extrapolating them to all of China.

Di Wang sees changes including Chinese money changing from one yuan and one wen to ‘dollars’ and ‘cents’ devalued from the yuan to the fabi; the golden yuan or jinyuanjuan to three million fabi in one shot.

The twenty-plus-page Introduction is about Chengdu, its teahouses, and everyday culture. It discusses them, the Teahouse Guild, labor in general and teahouse labor specifically. All about these workplaces, teahouse life, its entertainment, and other walks of life, this book shares politics and the public, politics in general, and other political issues, and concludes with small business and everyday culture in these and other places. It ends sharing comparisons of tea and rice prices from 1909 to 1948, tables, maps, and thirty-two illustrations, a multipage Chinese character pronunciation guide, chapter notes, works cited, and a two-column Index in this fifty-year scholarly book about teahouse history in Chengdu.

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