From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Celebrazioni e rimozioni dell’Italia in Cina: il caso esemplare della colonia dimenticata di Tianjin

Simona Morrone


Promotions and denials of italy in China: the case study of the forgotten colony in Tianjin. The essay starts considering the former Italian colony in Tianjin from a double perspective: history and present time. I will focus on its restoration plan, started in 2004, which has led to the birth of the New I-Style Town. The former colony has been transformed into a crucial economic and financial hub and a scenic neighbourhood, symbol of the ‘Italianness’. The second point of the essay underlines the vitality this transformation has given to the partnership between Italy and China. In particular, I will consider the urban and artistic park, which was designed by the Italian architectural firm mOa in 2007 for an industrial area in Tianjin. This project, entitled An Italian park in Tianjin, was shown in the 2008 edition of the Venice Biennale of Architecture. The project highlights the long-lasting cultural hybridization between Italy and China and regenerates from a modern and ecofriendly perspective the topic of Italian parks. It also aimed to foster housing and urban development in Tianjin. After telling about this series of events, I will focus on the rhetoric used to describe a little known page of the Italian colonial history as a specific moment of the good relationships existing between these two countries and, more generally, as the starting point of the Chinese internationalization. This ‘sugar-coated’ image of the colonial past has been crucial in the wide-ranging celebration of the present cultural relationship between Italy and China for economic purposes, exactly during the resolute rise of China on the global capitalist scene.


postcolonialism, Italian art and architecture, restoration, hybridity, heterotopia, Heterochrony



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