Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson
Chapter 9: Making urban public space amidst modern Chinese urbanism
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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