This work is an investigation into Shanghai’s role in the twenty-first century as it attempts to rejoin the global city network. It also examines the effects this move is having on the city, its people, and its public spaces. Shanghai’s intention to turn itself into the New York of Asia is not succeeding, in fact the city might be better trying to become the Chicago of Asia instead. As one of Saskia Sassen’s ‘global cities’ Shanghai functions as part of a network that requires face-to-face contact, but it has also been able to benefit from links that were forged during the colonial era (1842 to c.1949). In fact, the new global elites who have made cities like Shanghai their home have ended up living much like former ones; with the result that their needs are pushing out the very people who used to call this city ‘home’. These are the people who inhabit what Manuel Castells calls the ‘Fourth World’ (what this research refers to as the ‘analogue archipelago’). Manuel Castells’s notion of the ‘network society’ also shows how recent developments in globalisation have resulted in qualitative social and economic changes because they operate in real time. Globalisation, however, does not necessarily mean Westernisation. In fact, there is a strong neo-Confucian ethos underpinning China’s recent resurgence, which in turn has important ramifications for how Chinese people perceive public space. Shanghai’s new public space is curiously dead – and while Asians tend to blur distinctions between public and private more than we do in the West (which can render these spaces harder to read for Westerners) – the fault lies more with the fact that some of Shanghai’s new public spaces are simply ‘left-over’ spaces, particularly in front of the newer skyscrapers. This space has been designed for movement, not for use, and it contrasts starkly with the traditional alleyway houses of the colonial-era city where communal activity, graduated privacy, and organised complexity made for a rich and dynamic street life. Part II of this thesis deals with colonialism, noting how Shanghai has benefitted from its justly famous colonial history in its attempts to rejoin the global city network. Colonialism is carefully differentiated from imperialism, although it is noted that both were premised on industrial innovations, particularly Britain’s, in the nineteenth century. Part II also examines Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s role in the global city network, the better to understand Shanghai; and a useful comparison has been made between Shanghai’s alleyway houses and the Singapore shophouse with regard to public space and the possibilities for rehabilitation and reuse. Part III is perhaps the most important section of this thesis, particularly its use of Michel Foucault’s theories of space and power relations and how these are inscribed in a built environment. This Part also highlights the use that has been made of Foucault’s work by other academics, notably Edward W. Said in Orientalism. Said saw some good things as having resulted from Western hegemony over that part of the world he defines as the Orient but generally tends to regard imperialistic influence as debilitating and dangerous. Use has also been made of some critics of Said’s work, notably Robert Irwin and Ibn Warraq, who maintain that Said overvalued the role of the intellectual, and, more dangerously, misunderstood the Foucauldian notion of discourse, which is what led him to make some of his most damaging statements about European racism against the Orient. By way of contrast, David Grahame Shane’s application of the Foucauldian notion of the heterotopia – to Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City – is an apposite and accurate use of one of Foucault’s theories. Part IV examines China’s rich and ancient culture, noting as it does so that cultures are constructed, and, more importantly, asking how they are constructed. Manuel Castells sees the construction of identities as using materials from history, geography, biology, productive and reproductive institutions, as well as from collective memory and personal fantasies, and even from power apparatuses and religious revelation; this thesis’s examination of the Chinese mentalité is an important exercise in helping to comprehend what is happening in Shanghai today. Cities are not about buildings and streets; cities are about people, and their networks of interaction. Any study of a city must take account of the warm life of its inhabitants and not allow itself to be blinded by the cold geometries of stone. This examination of what has gone wrong with Shanghai’s new public spaces was greatly aided by an understanding of the Chinese language itself, which in turn led to the conclusion that the Western term ‘public’ might be better transliterated into Chinese as chang (which means ‘open-air’) rather than the more usual gong (or ‘public’), especially when describing Shanghai’s new public space.