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CRIT-GEOG-FORUM  October 2018

CRIT-GEOG-FORUM October 2018

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Subject:

AAG 2019 CfP Innovation in urban China: Politics, Economies and Everyday Lifeworlds

From:

Shaun Teo <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Shaun Teo <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 12 Oct 2018 10:25:30 +0100

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Innovation in urban China: Politics, Economies and Everyday Lifeworlds

It is said that China’s astronomical growth in the past three decades is a function of an ingenious innovative spirit, both in terms of political ideology and its translation into legislation, policy making and urban projects (for recent examples on innovative projects in China see Shen and Wu 2012; Zhang and Wu 2012; Caprotti 2014; Li and Wu 2015; He 2015; Teets and Hurst 2015; Ruopilla and Zhao 2017; Chung, Zhang and Wu 2018; Pow 2018). This session is interested in exploring three questions. In what forms does innovation manifest in urban China? What are the implications of these innovations on the politics, economies and everyday lifeworlds of urban China? How can these findings allow a more nuanced theorization of Chinese governance and/or urban transformation in China? 

Many have argued that ambiguity and nebulousness of ‘innovation’ are its greatest strengths, allowing the state’s flexible reach into its economic, political and social spheres (Schoon 2014). Notwithstanding this, we argue a focus on four intersecting elements provides a theoretical basis to make sense of ‘innovation’ in urban China. Pragmatism is the idea of ‘doing whatever works’ to achieve tangible results.  It reflects the emphasis placed on the outcome vis-à-vis the process (Altrock and Schoon 2013). Experimentalism is the space the government concedes to allow various stakeholders to negotiate, discuss, and bargain in the conceptualization and implementation of (pilot) policy and projects (Heilmann and Perry 2011). Technocracy emphasizes the long-standing proclivities of Chinese governance, where the ‘expert’ is vaunted as that who is able to be critically reflexive about a city’s current situation and future trajectory, identify its problems, take calculated risks and propose viable solutions, all of which require considerable levels of knowledge and socio-technical skillsets (Yoon 2011). Bureaucracy reminds us of the continued presence of the authoritarian state in governing innovation, ensuring that even in its ethos of challenge and change, innovation safeguards the political and ideological pillars of communist party-leadership (Gries and Rosen 2004; Schubert 2006).

We invite papers that–notwithstanding the adoption of the abovementioned analytical frames–explore one or more of the following (non-exhaustive list of):

♣	Projects unique in look (aesthetics), feel (affects) and scale (mega, micro, transboundary, or virtual projects)
♣	Projects with progressive functions and goals, such as social equality and environmental sustainability
♣	Institutional and legislative changes/reforms paving way for new modes of urbanization
♣	New forms of collaboration, especially those which include experts, civil society and the community
♣	Projects in ‘new’ or ‘unexpected’ locations, such as those ‘in-between’ the rural and urban, in the air, or underground 

Please submit abstracts of approximately 250 words by 23 October to Calvin Chung, University College London ([log in to unmask]), Shaun Teo, University College London  ([log in to unmask]) and Zheng Wang, University of Sheffield ([log in to unmask]). 


Selected References

Chung CKL, Zhang F and Wu F 2018 Negotiating green space with landed interests: The urban political ecology of Greenway in the Pearl River Delta, China. Antipode 50(4) 891-909.

He S 2015 Consuming urban living in ‘villages in the city’: Studentification in Guangzhou, China. Urban Studies 52(15) 2849-2873.

Li Y and Wu F 2014 Reconstructing urban scale: New experiments with the “Provincial Administration of Counties” reform in China. The China Review 147-173.

Pow CP 2018 Building a harmonious society through greening: ecological civilization and aesthetic governmentality in China. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 108(3) 864-883.

Teets JC and Hurst W eds. 2015 Local Governance Innovation in China: Experimentation, Diffusion, and Defiance. Routledge.

Zhang F and Wu F 2012 Fostering indigenous innovation capacities: The development of biotechnology in Shanghai's Zhangjiang High-Tech Park. Urban Geography 33(5) 728-755.

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