Fieldnotes from Shanghai: Cult of the Unscrutable Colonial

In Search of the Inscrutable Colonial…

Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age refers to a future Chinese cult around the “inscrutable Colonial” who never revealed the secrets of his recipe for fried chicken. We saw plenty of signs that this cult was taking shape when we visited Shanghai but we also saw even greater symptoms of another religion in the making — perhaps centered around the resurrection of a certain character from Battlestar Galactica. If nothing else, these images suggest how transnational brands get adapted to fit within culturally specific contexts.

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Photographs by Sasha Barab