Handbook on Urban Development in China
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Handbook on Urban Development in China

Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson

The trajectory and logic of urban development in post-Mao China have been shaped and defined by the contention between domestic and global capital, central and local state and social actors of different class status and endowment. This urban transformation process of historic proportion entails new rules for distribution and negotiation, novel perceptions of citizenship, as well as room for unprecedented spontaneity and creativity. Based on original research by leading experts, this book offers an updated and nuanced analysis of the new logic of urban governance and its implications.
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Chapter 9: Making urban public space amidst modern Chinese urbanism

Junxi Qian

Abstract

While urban public space has been systematically conceptualized and theorized in Western scholarship, the ways in which it has acted as a system of ideologies, values, practices and meanings in modern Chinese cities remain poorly understood and theorized. This chapter attempts to develop a tentative conceptualization of urban publicness in modern China, by tracing its meaning-loaded, yet contested trajectory of evolution from the late Qing period until the post-socialist present. It does so by working out a comprehensive, but critical and reflexive, synthesis of academic work on public space in modern Chinese cities in both Chinese and English languages. It argues that for the notion of public space to be more relevant to cities beyond the West, its conceptualization needs to extend beyond the normative underpinnings of civic and political ideals.

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