The Triumph of the Uncanny: Italians and Italian Architecture in Tianjin

Main Article Content

Maurizio Marinelli


Between 1860 and 1945, the Chinese port city of Tianjin became the site of up to nine foreign-controlled concessions, including one controlled by Italy, as well as, temporarily, a multi-national military government (1900–02), and a series of evolving municipal administrations. Tianjin became the second largest industrial and commercial city in China after Shanghai, the largest financial and trade centre in the north, and one of the most vibrant commercial centres in Asia.

This article focuses on the identity politics of ‘Italy’ in Tianjin. It analyses both the discursive formations and the practices of governance that characterised the Italian concession area, in the past and in the present. Using Freud’s paradigm of ‘uncanny’ (unheimlich) the article explores the context in which forms and representations that are considered ‘homely’ and ‘familiar’ by the Italians are exposed, proposed and imposed on the perceived otherness of Tianjin’s space.

Article Details

Emotional Geographies of the Uncanny (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Maurizio Marinelli, University of Technology Sydney

Professor Maurizio Marinelli, Director of the China Research Centre at the University of Technology Sydney, specialises in contemporary China’s intellectual and urban history. His research investigates how China’s relations with the rest of the world have influenced historical narratives and shaped ways of representing each other within their respective intellectual discourses. He is currently working on the socio-spatial transformation of the port city of Tianjin from the foreign concessions era (1860-1945) to the present. Before coming to Australia, he taught in Italy, China, the United States, and the United Kingdom.