Journal Article

A Virtual America: Americans and ‘American’ Spaces in New Shanghai



Expatriate spaces on the outskirts ofNew Shanghai constitute a new trans- national social ~pace inhabited by many different nationalities. Yet these areas are ojien understood as 'American' spaces,jilled with virtualities ofeve1)'day Americana, and IVith franchises to cater to the transnational elites such as KFC, Diner'.~, Papa John '.~ Piu.a, etc. What meanings does the old 'New World' retain in the context ofthis hyper-modernizing Chinese megacity, with ambitions to become a world center? And how do Americans negotiate and appropriate these ~paces? This article is based on three stints offieldwork among Americans in Shanghai in 2007 and 2009, IVith a par- ricular(ocus on white.female, corporate tramjer expalriates living on Forest Manor, Rancho Santa Fe and the Racquet Club. Pitting these spaces against some ofthe most important theorizations ofthe virtual bearing on them, I propose that in order to ana- lyze the humanface ofglobal mobility we need to move beyond postmodern notions ofthe simulacrum where people are stripped ofagency. Through the voices ofthose who reside on 'Disneyland' I stress the sense of lived virtuality 011 the compounds, inclusive not only ofthe rhyrhms ofthe eve1)'day in these virrual spaces, bur also of rhe possible getaway from them.

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  • Type:
    Journal Article (peer reviewed)
  • Journal:
    American Studies in Scandinavia, Vol 42, Issue 1.
  • Pages:
  • Published:
  • Language:

About the Author

Amanda Lagerkvist

Amanda Lagerkvist is an Associate Professor of Media and Communication Studies and Wallenberg Academy Fellow in the Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University. . With a PhD from Stockholm University in 2005, she had a two-year postdoc the... Read more


Lagerkvist, A. (2010). A Virtual America: Americans and ‘American’ Spaces in New Shanghai. American Studies in Scandinavia, 42(1), pp. 81-108.