Tomba, Luigi (2014). The government next door : neighborhood politics in urban China. Ithaca : Cornell university press. 240 p. ISBN : 978-0-8014-5282-6.
Chinese residential communities are places of intense governing and an arena of active political engagement between state and society. In The Government Next Door, Luigi Tomba investigates how the goals of a government consolidated in a distant authority materialize in citizens’ everyday lives. Chinese neighborhoods reveal much about the changing nature of governing practices in the country. Government action is driven by the need to preserve social and political stability, but such priorities must adapt to the progressive privatization of urban residential space and an increasingly complex set of societal forces. Tomba’s vivid ethnographic accounts of neighborhood life and politics in Beijing, Shenyang, and Chengdu depict how such local “translation” of government priorities takes place.
Tomba reveals how different clusters of residential space are governed more or less intensely depending on the residents’ social status; how disgruntled communities with high unemployment are still managed with the pastoral strategies typical of the socialist tradition, while high-income neighbors are allowed greater autonomy in exchange for a greater concern for social order. Conflicts are contained by the gated structures of the neighborhoods to prevent systemic challenges to the government, and middle-class lifestyles have become exemplars of a new, responsible form of citizenship. At times of conflict and in daily interactions, the penetration of the state discourse about social stability becomes clear.
The Tijuca forest in the city of Rio de Janeiro is claimed to be the largest urban forest in the world. Maybe challengers to this title will come from China?
In a paper published in 2011, Liu Changfu and Li Xiaoma bring to light the importance of urban forests in carbon storage using the case of Shenyang1.
In Europe, some urban forests are several centuries old. They were first preserved to be used as gaming reserves for the nobility, and they then gained strategic and recreational purposes.
Urban forests also play a role in improving environment of cities. Several reforestation programs have been implemented with this objective; a notable example is the transformation of post-industrial sites into urban forests in Germany’s Ruhr.
Shenyang is a very industrial (and polluted) city of Northeast China where authorities have started to develop reforestation programmes. This article shows that this initiative needs to be continued.
The authors used satellite images of Shenyang and its surrounding to distinguish planted areas and the different varieties of trees, and then calculated the amount of carbon stored in several areas. In Shenyang, the carbon stored by the urban forests represents more than 3% of carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion. As argued by the authors, more efforts can be pursued to increase the sire of urban forests, but these forests need to be better managed so that trees grow healthy and store more carbon. Forest managers should also pay more attention in planting native trees, which seem to be more efficient than other varieties, and need to preserve primitive forests when possible.
We can also state that protecting and managing forests should be an integral part of urban planning, global approach needs to be adopted.
Liu Changfa & Li, Xiaoma (2011). Carbon storage and sequestration by urban forests in Shenyang, China. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Vol 11 (2), pp. 121-128 [↩]
Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)