CfP RC21: The Urban Spectre of ‘Global China’ and Critical Reflections on its Spatiality

CfP RC21: S6 – The Urban Spectre of ‘Global China’ and Critical Reflections on its Spatiality

18-21 September 2019, Delhi, India (https://rc21delhi2019.com)

Convenors

Professor Hyun Bang Shin, London School of Economics and Political Science (UK)
Dr Yimin Zhao, Renmin University of China (China)
Dr Sin Yee Koh, Monash University Malaysia (Malaysia)

Stream synopsis

The overseas expansion of China’s economic influence has recently been foregrounded in media reports and policy debates. The term ‘Global China’ has been widely adopted to depict the geopolitical dimension of this immense flow of capital. However, there is still a lack of attention to the urban dimension of ‘Global China’, especially regarding its impacts on the (re)imaginings and manifestations of urban futures – both within and beyond China.

In extant literature on Global China, two main features stand out. The first is the tendency to bound discussions of China’s role in global capital flows within Africa, and to theorise this role in terms of neo-colonialism. The second feature is the overt focus on the role of Chinese capital in industrial sectors – for example through investigations of labour conflicts (Giese 2013), labour regimes (Lee 2009, 2018), and workplace regimes (Fei et al. 2018). While there are increasing discussions on the spatiality of ‘Global China’, especially in relation to the ’Belt and Road’ (BRI) discourse, they are still closely linked to industrial sectors.

In this stream, we seek to address the existing gaps identified above through a focus on the urban spectre of ‘Global China’. We welcome theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions that address the interconnections and intersections between the rise of ‘Global China’ and ‘the urban’ (broadly defined). We aim to bring together papers that (1) critically examine the differentiated modes of speculative and spectacular urban production; (2) discuss the ways in which ‘the urban’ has been reconfigured by ‘Global China’; and (3) identify the theoretical and empirical implications for urban futures.

Submit your abstract

Please send your abstract of not more than 300 words to Hyun (h.b.shin@lse.ac.uk), Yimin (zhao.y@ruc.edu.cn) and Sin Yee (koh.sinyee@monash.edu) and CC’d to rc21delhi@gmail.com before January 20th, 2019. Please indicate the stream number (S6), the session title, and your last name in the subject line. For more details, please see the official instruction at: https://rc21delhi2019.com/index.php/call-for-abstracts/

Inquiries: If you have any questions regarding this stream, please email Hyun (h.b.shin@lse.ac.uk), Yimin (zhao.y@ruc.edu.cn) and Sin Yee (koh.sinyee@monash.edu).

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RGS-IBG 2018: Is the present a “foreign country”?

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RGS-IBG 2018 Annual Conference: Cardiff, UK, 28 to 31 August 2018

 

Session title: Is the present a “foreign country”? Modernity and urban space in comparative perspective

Organisers: Yimin Zhao (Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science); Boya Guo (Graduate School of Design, Harvard University)

 

Session introduction

The hegemony of modernity has been rooted in a teleological temporality for centuries, where a linear time is upheld, exhausting the possibilities of our living experience as well as our envisioning of the future (Sewell 1996). Postcolonial critiques of historicism have been inviting us to “provincialise Europe” and its universal history (Chakrabarty 2000), aiming to unlearn the taken-for-granted privileges of Eurocentric traditions and at the same time learn from the “historical others” (Scott 2012). This dialectical process of learning and unlearning questions the nature of modernity and requires us to conceive different ways to acknowledge co-existing multiplicities.

Space matters here because our re-imagination of it might put forward a new perspective, through which we could “dislocate” modernity, recognise multiplicities, and drop such dichotomies as West/Non-West, modern/ traditional, and innovation/imitation (Massey 1999, Robinson 2006). But there are still challenges, empirically, to follow this call for spatialising the history of modernity with “ordinary cities.” For, the living experience and space (of the “historical others” in particular) are yet deeply inflected by the teleological temporality, which could be evidenced by Thames Town in Shanghai (Wu 2010), Norman Foster-facilitated utopian landscapes in Astana (Koch 2012), and the archaising reconstruction of the whole city in Datong, China (Zhou 2015), to name just a few.

Instead of labelling these stories as false/deviated/incomplete modernity, here we want to gather together critical interrogations of stories as such to advance our reflections on the present. After recognising these stories as symptoms of the hegemony of modernity, it is more critical to explore how the experiences of modernity are being shaped by local-historical conditions and politico-economic relations. Lowenthal (1985) once illustrates that “the past is a foreign country” since “they do things differently there.” We want to move a step further and interrogate if the present is a “foreign country” as well, where different conducts of “historical others” could be conceptualised as co-existing spatial differences rather than temporal sequences, and where the questioning of historical time could be contextualised in multiple and dynamic spatial practices.

The key question we want to put forward in this session is: how and how far has modernity been performed and enacted through diverse spatial practices in daily life, and how can we learn to be “modern” from the perspectives of “historical others”? All contributions related to the two keywords (modernity and urban space) are welcome; and we are especially looking forward to empirical illustrations on how to inhabit the hegemony of modernity spatially – and hence differently.

 

Session 1: Debating authenticity

Session chair: Yimin Zhao (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)

Session authors, presenters and titles:

1. Learning from Chinese copying culture: Borrowed or reinvented modernity?, Boya Guo (Harvard University, USA) (presenter)
2. ‘Urban utopia’ in modern China: from Haussmann’s Paris to Southern Song imperial town — A case study of Hangzhou, Yang Song (King’s College London, UK) (presenter)
3. 1933 Millfun Shanghai: from slaughterhouse to creative park, Shu-Yi Chiu (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK) (presenter), Wen-I Lin (National Taipei University, Taiwan), Justin Spinney (Cardiff University, UK)
4. Entanglements of ‘heritageisation’ and ‘modernisation’ in urban space, Chiara Valli (Gothenburg University, Sweden) (presenter)

 

Session 2: Interrogating modernity

Session chair: Boya Guo (Harvard University, USA)

Session authors, presenters and titles:

1. The Myth of the Communist Mansion, Wanli Mo (Tongji University, PR China) (presenter)
2. Peddling modernity: Territorial stigmatisation and land business in Beijing’s green belts, Yimin Zhao (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) (presenter)
3. Shuttling Between Heterogeneous Spaces: Two (Art) Projects in China, Xiaoyi Nie (Royal College of Art, UK) (presenter)
4. Conservation and Democracy: The aspirations and politics of the built environment, Javier Ors Ausin (World Monuments Fund) (presenter)
5. Discussion

 

References

  • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial thought and historical difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Koch, Natalie. 2012. “Urban ‘utopias’: the Disney stigma and discourses of ‘false modernity’.” Environment and Planning A 44 (10):2445-2462.
  • Lowenthal, David. 1985. The past is a foreign country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Massey, Doreen. 1999. “Spaces of politics.” In Human Geography today, edited by Doreen Massey, John Allen and Philip Sarre, 279-294. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Robinson, Jennifer. 2006. Ordinary cities: Between modernity and development. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Scott, David. 2012. “The Traditions of Historical Others.” Symposia on Gender, Race, and Philosophy 8 (1):1-8.
  • Sewell Jr, William H. 1996. “Three temporalities: Toward an eventful sociology” in The historic turn in the human sciences, edited by Terrence McDonald, 245-80. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
  • Wu, Fulong. 2010. “Gated and packaged suburbia: Packaging and branding Chinese suburban residential development.” Cities no. 27 (5):385-396.
  • Zhou, Hao. (Director). 2015. The Chinese mayor [Documentary Film]. London: BBC.

 

CFP RGS-IBG 2018: Is the present a “foreign country”?

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Is the present a “foreign country”? Modernity and urban space in comparative perspective

RGS-IBG 2018 Annual Conference: Cardiff, UK, 28 to 31 August 2018

Organisers: Yimin Zhao (Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science); Boya Guo (Graduate School of Design, Harvard University)

Discussants: TBC

 

The hegemony of modernity has been rooted in a teleological temporality for centuries, where a linear time is upheld, exhausting the possibilities of our living experience as well as our envisioning of the future (Sewell 1996). Postcolonial critiques of historicism have been inviting us to “provincialise Europe” and its universal history (Chakrabarty 2000), aiming to unlearn the taken-for-granted privileges of Eurocentric traditions and at the same time learn from the “historical others” (Scott 2012). This dialectical process of learning and unlearning questions the nature of modernity and requires us to conceive different ways to acknowledge co-existing multiplicities.

Space matters here because our re-imaginations of it might put forward a new perspective, through which we could “dislocate” modernity, recognise multiplicities, and drop such dichotomies as West/Non-West, modern/ traditional, and innovation/imitation (Massey 1999, Robinson 2006). But there are still challenges, empirically, to follow this call for spatialising the history of modernity with “ordinary cities.” For, the living experience and space (of the “historical others” in particular) are yet deeply inflected by the teleological temporality, which could be evidenced by Thames Town in Shanghai (Wu 2010), Norman Foster-facilitated utopian landscapes in Astana (Koch 2012), and the archaising reconstruction of the whole city in Datong, China (Zhou 2015), to name just a few.

Instead of labelling these stories as false/deviated/incomplete modernity, here we want to gather together critical interrogations of stories as such to advance our reflections on the present. After recognising these stories as symptoms of the hegemony of modernity, it is more critical to explore how the experiences of modernity are being shaped by local-historical conditions and politico-economic relations. Lowenthal (1985) once illustrates that “the past is a foreign country” since “they do things differently there.” We want to move a step further and interrogate if the present is a “foreign country” as well, where different conducts of “historical others” could be conceptualised as co-existing spatial differences rather than temporal sequences, and where the questioning of historical time could be contextualised in multiple and dynamic spatial practices.

The key question we want to put forward in this session is: how and how far has modernity been performed and enacted through diverse spatial practices in daily life, and how can we learn to be “modern” from the perspectives of “historical others”? All contributions related to the two keywords (modernity and urban space) are welcome; and we are especially looking forward to empirical illustrations on how to inhabit the hegemony of modernity spatially – and hence differently.

If you are interested in participating in this session, please send an abstract of 200-250 words to Yimin Zhao (y.zhao25@lse.ac.uk) and Boya Guo (bguo@gsd.harvard.edu) by 9 February 2018.

 

References

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial thought and historical difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Koch, Natalie. 2012. “Urban ‘utopias’: the Disney stigma and discourses of ‘false modernity’.” Environment and Planning A no. 44 (10):2445-2462.

Lowenthal, David. 1985. The past is a foreign country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Massey, Doreen. 1999. “Spaces of politics.” In Human geography today, edited by Doreen Massey, John Allen and Philip Sarre, 279-294. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Robinson, Jennifer. 2006. Ordinary cities: Between modernity and development. London and New York: Routledge.

Scott, David. 2012. “The Traditions of Historical Others.” Symposia on Gender, Race, and Philosophy no. 8 (1):1-8.

Sewell Jr, William H. 1996. “Three temporalities: Toward an eventful sociology” in The historic turn in the human sciences, edited by Terrence McDonald, 245-80. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Wu, Fulong. 2010. “Gated and packaged suburbia: Packaging and branding Chinese suburban residential development.” Cities no. 27 (5):385-396.

Zhou, Hao. (Director). 2015. The Chinese mayor [Documentary Film]. London: BBC.

 

二手空间:否思《基多宣言》

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Title: “Secondhand Space – Unthinking the Quito Papers.” Published by Dushu Journal (读书杂志), Issue 12 (December), 2017 (in Chinese)

 

理查德·桑内特(Richard Sennett)和萨斯基亚·萨森(Saskia Sassen)对于国内学界来说都不是陌生的名字。无论是前者的《公共人的衰落》和《肉体与石头》,还是后者的《全球城市》都在城市研究者的必读书单上。最近他们又一次在国内的知识界尤其是城市研究和城市规划的圈子里流行起来。以《基多宣言》(The Quito Papers)为标题,他们的新剧目在安第斯山上的厄瓜多尔首都基多首演之后不久便来到了北京,并开启了新一轮对城市空间和城市生活的讨论。

这是一场相当及时的讨论。不用提日益增长、早已超过50%的城市化率,也不用提数亿涌向城市的流动人口,我们只需要在日常的每个角落里稍加留心,便可以意识到城市议题早已主宰了我们的生活。我们有一二三四线城市,也便有了“逃离北上广”。我们有日益富丽堂皇的世界城市、国际一流宜居之都,也有不断扩张、不断吸引媒体注意力的“城乡结合部”。我们有越来越多的城市居民,也有越来越多“假装在生活”的人。产业升级和城市环境整治的浪潮亦使我们越来越难见到街头小店,越来越难买到早餐。

在整个社会的城市转型之中,我们的确有必要思考、反思乃至否思以往的城市理论,去观察和分析它们与当下城市状况之间的沟壑,从而提出新的问题,研究新的答案。在这一层意义上,桑内特、萨森和他们的《基多宣言》是值得关注的。他们以柯布西耶及其现代主义规划理念为反思对象,继承和发展城市理论批评者简·雅各布斯以降的种种新城市主义思路,力图唤起大家对城市之共时的复杂性(complex in a synchronous way)、未完成性(incomplete)和多孔性(porous)的认识,重新构想一种新的体验和塑造城市的方式,倡导从封闭的城市走向开放的城市(the open city)。

这些想法看上去都很美妙,似乎真的能帮助我们从高楼林立的城市森林里解脱出来,重新发现干净、安全、有效又多元的城市生活。桑内特、萨森和他们的联合国人居署的合作者们也对此充满信心,于是才会在二〇一六年秋天于基多召开的联合国住房与可持续城市发展大会上(又称“人居三”大会,Habitat III)力推《新城市章程》(The New Urban Agenda)(一份基于《基多宣言》编制而成的政策文本)。这个章程最终获得通过,成为接下来二十年指导全球城市发展的纲领性文件。

但是,看上去美妙的前景也许并不如这些文件所承诺的那么牢固。与其不加反思地盲从这种种宣言和章程,不如往后退一步,换一个新的角度去审视它们,去探寻它们雄心之下可能隐藏的困境与危险。这篇文章的目的就在于抛砖引玉,以批判性的态度重读《基多宣言》,从而将其可能内蕴的理论困境和认识论陷阱展现出来,以期推动学界对城市空间、城市形态、城市生活的思考和反思。

 

现代主义及其不满

《基多宣言》的理论起点是《雅典宪章》。一九三三年夏,国际现代建筑协会第四次会议在一艘从马赛开往雅典的邮轮上召开。这次会议标志着以勒·柯布西耶为首的一群建筑师开始理论化他们对“功能性城市”(the functional city)的构想,并最终定型于柯布西耶在一九四三年出版的《雅典宪章》(Athens Charter)中。在战后相当长的一段时间里,《雅典宪章》被奉为城市建设的圭臬而广为流传,并直接塑造了今日千篇一律的城市景观:高楼、广场、绿地、大马路,还有“小汽车主义”。

柯布西耶的立场有其时代背景。从十九世纪到二十世纪早期,随着大工业的急速发展,城市空间也日益变得拥挤、杂乱,并严重影响到市民的生活质量。建筑师们所谓“功能性城市”的提法,其实关切的正是工业时代的城市形态问题。通过确认居住、工作、游憩和交通四大功能,他们也在事实上确认了城市形态的从属地位:形态本身需要加以改进,以便服务经济发展和相应的生活需求。

这一功能主义的思路从根本上限制了柯布西耶们的解决方案。为了解决脏乱差和拥挤问题,他们大力提倡新建高楼、开辟绿地、拓宽马路、功能分区。最终,他们面对的问题非但没有解决,反而被进一步放大。高楼和绿地并没有增进人们的生活质量,而是加剧了社会分隔,恶化了大都会的精神生活,甚至造就了诸如巴黎郊区“邮政编码种族主义”这样的严重后果。功能分区和快速路也同样没有对拥挤问题有丝毫帮助,对于这一点,每天早晚高峰时堵在北京东三环或者上海内环高架路上的人一定有切身感受。针对这些现代主义的观念,桑内特的评论堪称犀利:柯布西耶的宪章是一个乌托邦,“一个错误的乌托邦”。

简·雅各布斯是较早对柯布西耶说不的人。在现代主义的建筑和城市规划如日中天的上世纪六十年代,她写作《美国大城市的死与生》(The Death and Life of Great American Cities),宣扬街道活力和多元,强调邻里和生活经验的重要,抵抗纽约的城市更新(urban renewal)和大拆大建,保卫她住的格林尼治村(Greenwich Village)。在这些努力之后,人们逐渐地认识到柯布西耶路径存在的问题,开始接受雅各布斯的批评。如此变化最终促成了八十年代以降“新城市主义”(the new urbanism)的兴起,以及美国城市规划设计界的范式转型。

在萨森看来,雅各布斯的城市观需要放到一个更大的框架里去理解,这个框架的核心是城市在整个经济中扮演的角色。这就需要提及雅氏的另外一本书,《城市经济》(The Economy of Cities)。书中观点可以作如下概括:正是城市的琐碎日常中所隐藏的多元和杂乱,才保证了城市内部劳动分工的演进,在种种不经意间促成新的经济活动的诞生。劳动分工和多样化带来新的商品和服务,从而使城市和经济保持着强大的发展动力。但是,在街道邻里消失的时刻,在日常生活痕迹被抹去的瞬间,这些动力便也会随之消失。

在这里,雅各布斯与柯布西耶彻底分道扬镳。如果说《死与生》更多地是在城市形态上与柯布西耶和现代主义进行对话,那么《城市经济》则将这一对话和反思推进到了城市属性和内容的层面。建筑师们始终只关心形式问题(urban form),强调通过改进了的设计手段将城市空间变成一个更好的容器,去承载整个经济与社会。但是雅各布斯变换了方法论,不再仅仅将城市视为容器,而是将焦点转移到城市在经济发展过程中拥有的能动性(agency)。

承认城市空间的能动性也是《基多宣言》的作者们共享的理论基础。桑内特发展了雅各布斯的观点,通过“共时的复杂性”强调城市中各种原本不相及的事情会同时出现并交错,“未完成性”关注开放的未来和无穷的可能性,“多孔性”则意在呼吁陌生人的相遇对城市活力至关重要,我们不能秉持某种封闭刻板的边界观,而是要把高墙(boundary)变成前沿(border)。与此类似,萨森也将城市定义为一个复杂且未完成的系统。在这样的空间里,普通市民可以营造他们的历史和文化,其间蕴含的动态和多元属性无法被任何掌权者完全控制——这便是城市的多样性所具有的政治意涵。

 

新自由主义的街道

雅各布斯常常因为这些关于空间能动性的观点而被贴上“城市无政府主义者”(urban anarchist)的标签。对此,桑内特正确地反思道:雅各布斯的“无政府主义”更接近于埃德蒙·伯克(Edmund Burke)的保守主义立场,而非埃玛·戈尔德曼(Emma Goldman)所宣扬的那种激进无政府主义。在雅各布斯那里,空间的能动性只可能立足于某种自发性之上:拥挤的人群以一种非正式的方式聚集在一起,共同生活,相互竞争与合作;由此产生的复杂性、多样性乃至不和谐终将遵循某种类似于自然界的规律重塑社会和空间形态。问题于是在这里冒了出来:城市空间和社会在多大程度上遵循着自然界的规律?

桑内特将上述社会达尔文主义的论调归结为雅各布斯对某种“进化论城市时间”(evolutionary urban time)的推崇。但是在我看来,这样的反思远远不够,我们必须从空间本身入手去推进批评。事实上,雅各布斯的空间观与海德格尔的地方观具有相当程度的亲和性,并因此而共享着某些严重的理论和政治困境。在《寰宇主义与自由地理》(Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom)中,大卫·哈维对海德格尔的地方观作了精准概括:为了寻回已经失去的本真性(authenticity),海德格尔拒斥自由资本主义的物质力量,抨击商业寰宇主义精神,诉诸“栖居”概念,试图以现象学的方式揭露地方(place)中的人类存在真理,从而通过本地和真实的感官联结来抗拒全球进程。如果说这是一种内向的保守主义的话,雅各布斯所从事的事业则是一种外向的保守主义。与海德格尔一样,雅各布斯也将焦点转向地方。但是后者对街道的颂扬并不止步于街道本身,而是意图通过街道来吸纳甚至形塑全球力量。在雅各布斯看来,街道的自发性和城市经济紧密联结在一起,各种复杂、多样和不和谐的音符最终将谱写一曲劳动分工和经济发展的赞歌。换言之,街道活力和邻里生活是作为全球流动资本的地方化形态而存在并保有意义的。于是,在进化论的城市时间和雅各布斯的街道空间之间,新自由主义的阴影猝然拉长。

《死与生》写作于上世纪五十年代末至六十年代初。那个时候,自罗斯福新政以降一直占据统治地位的凯恩斯经济理论逐渐式微,一场鼓吹自由市场和小政府的政治经济思潮开始在芝加哥兴起。作为这一新风潮(所谓“芝加哥学派”)的领军人物,约翰·弗里德曼不仅生产经济学教科书,而且编织出了新自由主义的尺度想象(scalar imaginary)。他和妻子在合著的《自由选择》(Free to Choose)一书中,对微型尺度的政府治理推崇备至,认为尺度越小,人们才越可能规避匿名的城市官僚对自由的侵蚀,其中尤以美国大城市郊区(以及郊区社区新兴的业主自治)为正面典型。

如果说美国的郊区主义在某种程度上(意识形态层面)是新自由主义的发明,那么街道也是。在《死与生》里,通过对“街道眼”的细致分析,通过对街道安全和城市自由的赞许,通过对街道使用者自发演绎优美和谐的“街道芭蕾”的譬喻,雅各布斯也同样在街道和小政府之间建立起了经久不衰的关联。不仅如此,她的《城市经济》更进一步把街道的社会空间剖面安放到了自由市场里:拥挤的人群,非正式的竞合,自然律的筛选——多么典型的新自由主义表述。

但是更进一步的问题在于,雅各布斯所保卫的街道到底是谁的街道?在雅氏的设想里,街道和生活仿佛都不具有时间性和政治性,它们自然而然地发生,自然而然地演化,最终的结局一定是圆满的。但是这样的想象无法在现实生活里落地。因为街道的社会和空间形态来自权力和资本的持续形塑,“街道芭蕾”只可能发生在那些有资格进入、使用和拥有街道的人群。《死与生》并非没有意识到这个问题。雅各布斯在其中花费大量笔墨去抨击当时美国城市盛行一时的城市更新工程,从纽约到费城,从波士顿到芝加哥,几乎所有城市的内城都面临着大规模的拆迁和重建。但是雅各布斯的局限在于,她把解决这些问题的希望寄托在了回归街道这样的策略上,全然不顾其背后资本和国家的逻辑。

在雅各布斯的街道里,进化论城市时间事实上取消了真实存在的时空,把生活简化成了观念,让观念决定生活的方向。这一立场立刻产生了两个后果。第一,这种非空间(aspatial)和去历史(ahistorical)的观念不再把社会和空间正义放置在议事日程上,而仅仅关注街道的某些特定的面向,比如安全和多元,从而给资本的城市化提供了通途。第二,抽象的街道不仅强化了地方和空间的二元对立,而且强化了新自由主义的全球野心,也即用某种模范的街道样态统摄和同一化全球尺度的城市空间。在某种意义上,雅各布斯的街道只是一场全球运动的起点——它承载了始于里根和撒切尔、挫折于二〇〇八年金融危机、但目前尚未终结的新自由主义浪潮。正是在这个时空节点上,《基多宣言》粉墨登场。

 

超越“二手空间”

《基多宣言》的作者们野心不可谓不大。他们常常将这份文件的意义与《雅典宪章》相提并论,宣称要为新的“城市时代”重写一个宪章。面对严峻的气候变化议题、方兴未艾的大数据和挑战与机遇并存的非正规城市空间(urban informality),他们决定彻底否定柯布西耶,全面拥抱和改进雅各布斯的观点,意图通过改良的设计手段重构城市空间,为城市居民赋权,推动他们去创造新的生活。联合国人居署(UN-Habitat)执行主任华安·克洛斯(Joan Clos)在《基多宣言》的发布会上坦诚,这个宣言就是他主导推动的联合国《新城市章程》的理论基础。《章程》是一个外交文本,是各方妥协的产物,因而并不具有伟大的理论原创性。而《宣言》的时空范围要宽广得多,通过回顾过去一个世纪城市规划理念的得与失,它成为《章程》的坚实基底。

全球野心背后站着的是前任巴塞罗那市长华安·克洛斯及其“杰出”的城市运营之道。在后来的一次访谈里,克洛斯市长坦诚一九九二年奥运会的申办目的就是为了获得西班牙中央政府和加泰罗尼亚大区政府的财政扶持:“那时候我们在思考把巴塞罗那转型成为一座后工业城市,[但是需要大量的资金],奥运会是一个去找中央政府和大区政府要钱的好借口。”奥运会之后,这座城市便义无反顾地走上了驱赶低端产业、驱逐市区贫民、通过绅士化(gentrification)和旅游业促进经济大发展的道路。在克洛斯看来,城市规划、立法实践和财政安排是决定了城市发展的三条大动脉,当这三条动脉被合理地汇聚起来的时候 (three-legged approach),运营一座城市便能成为国家的好生意。

定义了《基多宣言》和《新城市章程》的理念,并非是靠冠冕堂皇的“人人共享城市”,“有包容性、有韧性和可持续的城市”或者所谓“城市权”(the right to the city),而是克洛斯市长/主任上述一席肺腑之言。如果说雅各布斯的街道观尚存有一息理想主义的信念(而她本人也正因为这样的理想主义而时常和左翼团体站在一起保卫城市和街道,甚至因此被捕),那么克洛斯、桑内特和萨森等人的宣言就已经转化为连接资本和城市空间的话语工具。这个工具的内核是克洛斯的,镶嵌着他在巴塞罗那政商两界纵横捭阖的累累硕果——唯独普通人的日常生活及其空间不在其考量之列。这个工具的外壳是经过桑内特和萨森加工了的雅各布斯;在他们的笔下,共时的复杂性、未完成性和多孔性成为彰显雅各布斯及其日常关怀的招牌。

当雄心勃勃的内核披上良善的外衣,最终的城市问题解决之道就变得简单而直接。在一场名为《开放城市》(The Open City)的演说里,桑内特引用卢曼“自我生产”(autopoiesis)的概念来论证其有关城市生活自组织的观点:“在一个开放的城市里,人们取得的诸如效率、安全和社会性这类成就,都是靠他们自己的能动性实现的。”为了实现和促进这个目标,他继续道,“空间形态和密度至关重要,因此我们需要更好的城市设计来鼓励人们去实现前述成就,比如模糊城市内部各分区的边界,建设未完成的建筑以便日后的进一步发展,以及采纳非线性的叙事方式从而容纳冲突和可能性。”在这里,对城市空间能动性的关切让位给了对个体能动性的拔高(和政府责任的退却),城市问题的最终解决方案则又回到了城市形态和设计上——而这正是柯布西耶失败的根源:如果设计真的能够解决社会问题,那么柯布西耶的乌托邦便不会是一个“错误的乌托邦”——桑内特的逻辑在这里自相矛盾了。

将城市空间视作推动经济发展的利器而忽视社会不公平的问题,以及将社会问题的解决寄托在城市设计和个体的能动性上,这是时下相当流行的两类城市观。但是在剑桥大学地理系主任阿希·阿敏教授看来,这两种城市观都是他定义的“望远镜城市主义”(telescopic urbanism)(Amin, Ash. “Telescopic urbanism and the poor.” City Vol.17 [2013], no.4: 476-492.)。论者站在远处举着望远镜观察城市的时候,焦点局限在他们事先预设的空间:商业顾问们只愿意遥望 CBD,而人口潜力派们则只顾着寻找贫民窟的人群发展自身潜力的蛛丝马迹。他们不顾及城市空间的整体性,不把视野从预设的焦点上移开哪怕半步,也不谈论社会和空间正义所需要的责任与伦理(除了浮夸的城市形态学)。在这种意义上,他们所观察到的城市也是非空间和去历史的,是一种观念性的构建而非生活性的存在——因而无法生产出指导城市实践的真知灼见。

就这样,《基多宣言》和它所支撑的《新城市章程》与它们宣称的目标渐行渐远。在望远镜城市主义的引导下,社会和空间正义让位给了新自由主义,政商两界的需求开始主宰和重塑人们对城市空间的想象,这便是宣言所隐含的理论/政治困境。如果说这个困境深深植根于宣言作者们的思考路径和政治诉求里因而很难克服的话,那么更严峻的挑战则出现在认识论层面。为了弄清楚这一点,我们需要重新思考空间问题。

在《二手时间》里,阿列克谢耶维奇用深情和悲伤的笔触写下了后苏联时代的日常生活和其间种种破碎的、悲剧性的情感。时间在这样的破碎里变得迷离起来,再也锚定不了生活。借用她的标题,我在这里想强调的是类似的可能性:深具野心的“二手空间”正在崛起和扩散,它背后隐藏着的政治经济诉求也同样觊觎着我们的生活和空间,如果我们不去审视、批判与之相关的理论、话语和实践,同时构思我们自己的空间观加以应对,那么便很可能会陷入到类似“二手时间”那样的境地。在我们身边的很多地方,这样的后果已然发生。

《基多宣言》里便同时存在着两个层次的“二手空间”。首先,雅各布斯的空间理论与立场再度出场,并且被继承者们按照资本和城市运营的新要求量体裁衣,成为一种新的模范街道样态。这种街道想象继承了雅各布斯的话语及其与新自由主义连结的潜力,然后立刻开始了对第二个层次的“二手空间”的建构,也即,把这个想象完全不加改变地应用到其他所有地方。这样的普世野心其实并不新鲜,已经有很多讨论述及启蒙和现代性背后隐藏的类似认识论陷阱。但是如《基多宣言》这样的城市文本具有更大的危险,因为在它们的普世宣称里,线性的时间被同质的空间所掩盖,从而可以更轻松地突破和消灭原本共存的时空异质性。

通过塑造一种全新的空间和尺度想象,资本及其权力便可经过“二手空间”的中介而实现全球范围的流动,最终改变(甚至摧毁)各个地方每条街道的日常生活。为了避免这样的状况及其恶化,我们应当首先反思类似《宣言》这样的二手空间观,然后从我们的身边和脚下出发去构想自己的空间观念。只有当我们认识到地方本质上就是种种全球/全局性过程的交错所在(a global sense of place),开始从本地出发去探索这些更广阔的、超越了本地尺度的空间属性,用比较的方法重新审视别人和自己,我们才可能真正把握空间和生活的密切关联,才可能发现和对抗萦绕四周的社会和空间不义,才可能重写多元且动态的城市宣言。

(刊于《读书》2017年第12期)

Space as method

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My first “academic” article, one that reflects upon my own field experience in Beijing’s green belts, has recently been published in the City journal.

This paper has plenty of meanings for me. It is the very first chapter that was finished all through my thesis. I can still remember the readings I did for this paper, and the drafts I wrote and then scratched – all happened at the moment when the deadline of my thesis was approaching yet I was still in the middle of nowhere. It was also a revised version of the paper that won the third place in the student paper competition of China Geography Specialty Group at this year’s (2017) AAG Annual Meeting.

But most importantly, it shows the reflections I had after doing two spells of fieldwork by myself. Its starting point is a puzzle I had when in the field and its concluding remarks are at best an invitation for further discussions and debates on how to do fieldwork on the urban frontier with our bodily space-time. These works should be further developed, and I hope this paper could contribute some empirical observations that have not been registered in the literature before.

Below is the abstract of this paper, and the full access can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13604813.2017.1353342. Please feel free to contact me at y.zhao25#lse.ac.uk (replace # by @); all comments and suggestions are warmly welcome.

 

Abstract

Great urban transformations are diffusing across the global South, removing the original landscape of urban margins to make of them a new urban frontier. These processes raise questions of both validity and legitimacy for ethnographic practice, requiring critical reflection on both spatiality and method in fieldwork at the urban margins. This paper draws on fieldwork experience in Beijing’s green belts, which could also be labelled the city’s urban margin or frontier, to reflect on the space-time of encounter in the field. I aim to demonstrate how space foregrounds not only our bodily experiences but also ethnographic investigations of the daily life, and hence becomes a method. Beijing’s green belts symbolise a historical–geographical conjuncture (a moment) emerging in its urban metamorphosis. Traditional endeavours (immanent in various spatial metaphors) to identify field sites as reified entities are invalidated over the course of the space-time encounter, requiring a relational spatial ontology to register such dynamics. The use in fieldwork of DiDi Hitch, a mobile app for taxi-hailing and hitchhiking, reveals the spatiotemporal construction of self–other relations needing recognition via the dialectics of the encounter. In this relational framework, an encounter is never a priori but a negotiation of a here and now between different trajectories and stories as individuals are thrown together in socially constructed space and time.

 

Keywords

urban ethnography, spatial ontology, spatial metaphors, the dialectics of the encounter, DiDi Hitch, Beijing