AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 305

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Session 305: Urban Future in East Asia

Opportunities and Challenges for Studying Urban Transformation: Integrating Social Ecology and Physical Ecology in a Case Study of Beijing, China
Ruibo Han, University of Ottawa, Canada

Socioeconomic and physical factors work interactively in a city, but neither the social nor the natural science alone can fully understand how an urban system emerges and evolves. Therefore, integrating both the social and physical aspects of urban studies in an ecological environment by GIS and spatial-statistic methods provides both opportunities and challenges. This study explores the possibility to combine several spatial-statistic methods to demonstrate the transformation in the city of Beijing, and this combining approach provides a better understanding of the urban structure as well as the processes of urban transformation. Adopting a factorial ecology approach for the social aspect, this study firstly seeks to identify the factors shaping the social landscapes in Beijing. Using the census data from 1990 and 2000 at the subdistrict level, Principal Component Analysis and Cluster Analysis are employed to identify the factors as well as the transition patterns for the internal urban transformation in Beijing during the last two decades. For the physical aspect, Landsat TM and ASTER remotely sensed imageries with the same temporal span are processed to extract the landscape patterns. The social areas and the landscape patterns are analyzed through geographically weighted regression to inspect the spatial and temporal interactions. The factors shaping Beijing’s urban structure include characteristics of profession and population structure in the 1990s, while migration and minority population emerged as influencing factors in the 2000s. The restructuring of social landscape synchronized with the urban sprawl into suburban area, resulting in the fragmentation and shrinkage of agricultural and forest land in suburban Beijing. Suburbanization in Beijing has evolved into a new stage of market-oriented active development of the suburbs, departing from the old government-led passive pattern.

You, Me, and S/He are the World: The Ideological Articulation of the Global Imaginary at the 2010 Shanghai Expo
Manfred B. Steger, , USA

Building on my previous work around the rising global imaginary and its articulation by various competing global ideologies (globalisms), this paper takes these macro-mappings of social space down to the micro-level of representational urban spaces in the Asia-Pacific region. The specific contexts of the larger research initiative (partnered with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences) are six global cities in the region: Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, and Los Angeles. Examining the crucial role of “condensation symbols”—ideologically colored text-images such as brand logos that help rearrange the local and national around the global—this paper mines the rich symbolic environment of the 2010 Shanghai Expo for better explanations of how, concretely, the new global consciousness of the world as a single whole takes shape in one of the most economically and culturally vibrant regions of the world.

Urban Housing Reform in Changing China: Shanghai and Chongqing Compared
Mei-chuan Wei, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

This article seeks to draw attention to recent changes in China’s urban housing policy through a comparative study of housing reform in Shanghai and Chongqing. Recent years have seen a change from the market-oriented policy which originated in the late 1970s to a dual-track housing provision system. The purpose of the change has been to curb skyrocketing urban housing prices, the issue which has been at the top of China’s policy agenda over the past few months. Since 2004, macro measures have been taken by the Chinese central government to regulate urban housing markets with a view to cooling down its overheated economy and to helping sustain its long-term urban housing development. In the history of China’s urban housing reform since the late 1970s, Shanghai and Chongqing can be said to represent two different approaches. Reform in Shanghai , which is the most urbanised and internationalised city in China , is overtly market-oriented. In contrast, housing reform in Chongqing, an important municipality in the western inland area and the centre of the newly approved project to establish China’s fourth special economic zone ‘Two-Rivers New District’, is characterised by its emphasis on the provision of public rentals by the local government. Different views of the purpose and function of ‘housing’- as the ‘growth machine’ of urban development or as an important measure of social protection – have resulted in correspondingly different housing reform policies in the two cities. The paper will analyse the housing policies that have been implemented in the two cities as well as the guiding principles of these policies in the context of China’s transition from a socialist system to a socialist market economy. It will conclude that China’s recently announced macro-economic readjustment policy, of which urban housing reform is an important part, should be taken seriously as a significant step in its attempt to realise the so-called ‘Beijing Consensus’ (as opposed to the ‘Washington consensus’).

Shanghai After the Expo: What Next for the City?
Gregory Bracken, International Institute for Asian Studies, Netherlands

Shanghai is currently hosting the World Expo*. This is part of the city’s attempt to reposition itself as a global player. China’s capital may be Beijing, but Shanghai has long been the country’s most important city. Hosting such an event is intended to be a benchmark for the city as well as the country. The World Expo sees the intersection of two interesting trajectories, one, Shanghai’s bid to reclaim its position as a global player, and two, the Expo tradition itself, now somewhat overshadowed by the more populist Olympics but still a useful vehicle for advertising a city, or a country’s, wares. But what will be the Expo’s legacy for Shanghai? One of the key focuses of the 2010 Expo itself, whose theme was ‘Better City, Better Life’, was the urban environment, with the Expo intending to serve as an urban laboratory for new technologies in housing, transportation, and the recycling and reuse of industrial wastelands. (Parts of the venue itself were an excellent example of the imaginative reuse of brown-field sites in the old industrial south of the city.) But the event’s site has also sparked controversy. It has emerged that thousands of people have been forced to move from their homes to make way for the Expo, a feature that is, sadly, all too common in Shanghai’s recent and rapid redevelopment. This paper will examine the Expo itself, as an event, but will also question whether its urban-friendly themes can really have any effect on the city by the sea. *As of August 2010.

The 'Modern' Practice of Otaku Labeling in 'Postmodern' Conditions
Bjoern-Ole Kamm, Kyoto University, Japan

Conjuring the specters of 'postmodernity' and 'globalization', the 'otaku' culture ("hardcore fans") has been represented as a symptom of social change in Japanese public and academic discourse since the 1990s. Pathologized as psychopaths, described as middle-class 'prosumers' or heralded as postmodern subjects in a networked world, the 'otaku' have always been envisioned as a single entity — usually outside 'normal' society. Even though attempts to redefine the 'otaku' are continually pursued, the media-coined category itself remains unquestioned. This fails to recognize in-group differences and the necessity to locate 'otaku' research exactly in this ongoing struggle over meaning. To answer this problem, my Ph.D. research uses an interactionist perspective, with this paper focusing on transactional other- and self-labeling processes intertwined with the 'otaku' label. What impact has the label on the daily lives and the self-images of individuals? How are in-group differences constructed and defended? The paper presents first results from my ethnographic fieldwork in Japan: participant observation of a so-called 'otaku' community in Tokyo, at regional and national conventions, and on the internet portal mixi.jp, combined with 20 qualitative interviews in- and outside the Tokyo area as well as with industry professionals. Preliminary findings show that face-to-face actualization is a decisive factor for the politics of in-group belonging/not-belonging. Individual experiences and self-images are extremely diverse — ranging from self-confident, politically active working-class 'otaku' to people hiding behind pseudonyms in fear of harassment from co-workers and strangers.

Urbanization Processes in China: A Structural and Geographic Analysis
Huhua Cao, University of Ottawa, Canada

Prior to the 1978 economic reforms, the system of Chinese cities in the Maoist regime was dominated by large and extra-large cities because of the imperatives of optimum industrialization. The institutional changes initiated in 1978 have brought about a new mechanism for urban development. The emerging importance of marketizaiton has given rise to tremendous transition in the urbanization process, in which the classic models in western urbanization can be deployed to explain urban changes. Confronted with the severe problems concerning urban sustainable future, it’s of high necessity for China to obtain an overview of Chinese urban development. This study focuses on the analysis of structural and spatio-temporal changes of Chinese cities since 1949, while special attentions are paid to the stage from the beginning of 1980s. The objective is to identify the general patterns of change demonstrated by cities in different size and different regions across the country. After investigating the statistical data, the results indicate to us: (1) the network relationships of Chinese cities, both existing and newly established; (2) the patterns of the evolvement of cities in different size in response to political and economic changes; (3) the fact that cities are becoming increasingly dispersed to wider geographical extent than remained concentrated in the developed region of the coast.

Master Plan Seoul 2020 and Its Historic Precedents for Seoul, South Korea
Dick G. Winchell, Eastern Washington University, USA

Seoul has emerged as a world city and a global city, with 10.37 million residents in 2000, a dramatically urban city of transit connected high rises, and high technology centers of industry and commerce. Master Plan Seoul 2020 shifts future planning and development efforts from a growth oriented model to a growth management model, planning for a slightly reduced population of 9.8 million, but central to the new plan adopted in 2007 is a link to the natural features of the region, and to the historic 1372 plan for the city based on geomancy. The Seoul 2020 Plan incorporates green networks at urban, regional and neighborhood scales to revitalize and restore a healthy environment; and highlights preservation of mountain areas, historic city walls, gates and markets. The plan strategy for Downtown is to strengthen four north-south corridors, including Axis 1: Historic Corridor from Gyeongbok Palace to Seoul Station; and Axis 3: Green Corridor from Changggyeong Palace to Mt Namsam. The plan is for major investment in both new urban technology centers, notably the Euljiro Digital Media Art District, Sewoon District, and the Dongdaemun World Design Park and Complex, along with major investment in restoration of natural areas, expansion of green areas and parks, and preservation of historic areas that are key elements of the city’s historic plan. While new urbanism and European urbanism have become the central concepts of Western planning, Seoul has emphasized its Korean historic plan, and the unique geomantic ties to the natural setting of the city.