9-11 Sep 2015 Paris (France)
The social production of urban public space and the right to the city in contemporary Guangzhou
Ryanne Flock  1@  
1 : Freie Universität Berlin  (FU Berlin)  -  Website
Kaiserswerther Straße 16-18, 14195 Berlin, Allemagne -  Allemagne

When
Georg Simmel is right and the qualities of public space determine modern
urbanism, what role does public space play for urban development and social
integration in reform China? Taking Guangzhou as a case study
I apply Henry Lefèbvre's ideas of social production of space by
interwoven domination and appropriation of elites and daily user groups. Firstly,
I show
public space in the context of governmental
social control, regime prestige, aspirations of
modernization and globalization. Guangzhou's local government and urban management
bureaus use public space as a means to exhibit a desired public, free of “backwardness”
or “incivility” which could take the success of the reforms and the legitimacy
of the state into question. Secondly, I point to the limits of state power and
the agency of even the most marginalized user groups such as urban “vagabonds”
- beggars, street hawkers and fortune tellers. I elucidate the successful
contestation and appropriation of space, the influence on daily governance and
the growing requirements to access an ever-unsteady public space. Beyond the
discourse on loss or lack of urban public space in reform China, the study
shows the multidimensional trends and dynamic processes of the right to the
city.


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