Tag Archives: urban space

Space modernization and social interaction

Yang, Qingqing (2015). Space modernization and social interaction : a comparative study of living space in Beijing. Berlin ; Heidelberg : Springer. XVII-152 p. ISBN : SBN 978-3-662-44348-4.

This book concerns the Beijing Hutong and changing perceptions of space, of social relations and of self, as processes of urban redevelopment remove Hutong dwellers from their traditional homes to new high-rise apartments. It addresses questions of how space is humanly built and transformed, classified and differentiated, and most importantly how space is perceived and experienced. This study elaborates and expands Lefebvre’s “trialectic” of space on a theoretical level. The ethnography presented is a conversation with Tim Ingold’s argument about “empty space”. This research employs the ethnographic technique of participant-observation to secure a finely textured, detailed and micro-social account of local experience. Then, these micro-social insights are contextualized within macro-social structures of Chinese modernism by speaking to geographical concerns, orientalism and history.

More information on Springer

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Urban China on screen: the postsocialist cinematic city

Berra, J.1 (2013) Urban China on screen: the sixth generation and the postsocialist cinematic city. Geography Compass. 7 (8) pp.588–596. DOI: 10.1111/gec3.12061

This article will consider the relationship between the city and the cinema with regard to the films of China’s ‘Sixth Generation’, a group of filmmakers who mostly graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in the late 1980s and proceeded to make films on the subject of their nation’s urban fabric. These are films which utilise city narrative to comment on social–economic change, but largely observe such conditions, rather than to take apolitical stance. To explore the urban representation of the Sixth Generation, this article will provide analysis of three works that depict life in top-tier or second-tier mainland China cities: Biandan, guniang/So Close to Paradise (1999), Suzhou he/Suzhou River (2000) and Xiari nuanyangyang/I Love Beijing (2001). The manner in which urban space is represented will be considered, alongside the social positioning of the characters, in order to address arguments made by scholars that these films focus on the plight of the individual rather than considering the wider implications of urban planning.

Read full article on Wiley online library (restricted access or purchase options)

  1. School of Liberal Arts, Nanjing University, China

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Graffiti on the urban scene in China?

Graffiti

Graffiti have become ubiquitous throughout the European urban space. Spray paint has become the most widely used material for graffiti, which are often a form of artistic expression, sometimes a tool for political protest. Although considered an act of vandalism if carried out without the proprietor’s consent, the authorities seem to be negligent in applying the law, or else are unable to enforce it because of the overwhelming number of graffiti that proliferate on public walls, commercial façades, or even on private residents’ doors, not to mention the huge cost of cleaning them. (Last year the city of Barcelona approved a plan to clean 2,500 blinds at a cost estimated at 200 € per item).1. In China, graffiti are peculiarly rare, except in some public spaces that have been tacitly reserved for this use. According to an article published in Talk Magazine in February 2012,2 one of the reasons graffiti are absent from the urban scene in China is the fast rate at which the legions of public cleaners employed by the city wipe them out. The only graffiti that seems to endure is that used to form the character “chai” (拆), which marks every building doomed to demolition.

 

Chāi (拆), Elosua Miguel

  1. http://www.europapress.es/catalunya/noticia-barcelona-pagara-limpieza-2500-persianas-graffitis-cambio-mantenimiento-20130313162224.html. Last retrieved on July 4, 2013 []
  2. http://shanghai.talkmagazines.cn/issue/2012-03/graffiti-chinese-characteristics. Last retrieved on July 4 []

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Urban vegetable retail in China: the example of Shanghai

Zhang, Qian Forrest and Zi Pan (2013). The transformation of urban vegetable retail in China : wet markets, supermarkets, and informal markets in Shanghai. Journal of contemporary Asia p.1-22.

Abstract

The state-monopolised system of vegetable retail in socialist urban China has been transformed into a market-based system run by profit-driven actors. Publicly-owned wet markets not only declined in number after the state relegated its construction to market forces, but were also thoroughly privatised, becoming venues of capital accumulation for the market operators now controlling these properties. Self-employed migrant families replaced salaried state employees in the labour force. Governments’ increased control over urban public space reduced the room for informal markets, exacerbating the scarcity of vegetable retail space. Fragmentation in the production and wholesale systems restricted modern supermarkets’ ability to establish streamlined supply chains and made them less competitive than wet markets. The transformation of urban vegetable retail documented here shows both the advance that capital has made in re-shaping China’s agrifood system and the constraints that China’s socialist institutions impose on it. Shanghai’s experience also shows that the relative competitiveness of various retail formats is shaped by the state’s intervention in building market infrastructure and institutions.

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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