Social Inequalities in China, or, Crisis for Europe?

Readers in the West have for some time now associated the economic ascendancy of China with a proliferation of social conflicts and ongoing abuse of human rights. For those on both the Left and Right there is a logic of affirmation about such tensions: state-capitalism is at its authoritarian worst in China.

For the Left, social conflict registers as the condition or symptom of intense economic transformation. This grafts nicely with well-rehearsed humanist, if not Marxian formulations, on the inequalities inherent to capitalism. The Right, meanwhile, cannot quite reconcile the fact that increasingly open markets do not equate with the emergence of liberal democracy.

Event: background to Yuanmingyuan artist village

A walk down memory lane, Sunday July 22, 2007, from 3pm on

"With all its treasures, Notre Dame is no match for Yuanmingyuan, that enormous and magnificent museum in the East."
Victor Hugo

The following short-cut through the history of Yuanmingyuan and its role in the landscape of the Beijing artist village's is completely made up of information featured on other websites. Links to those websites can be found at the bottom of the post.

This collection serves as the background for the bei-ci excursion through Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Gardens) with Jiang Jun (editor-in-chief Urban china Magazine) on Sunday July 22, 2007.

more info on the event

Yuanmingyuan Artist Village

18th century

call for contributions

08/30/2007 - 15:18
08/31/2007 - 14:59

Beijing's Creative Industries: Counter-Mappings and Other Expressions

edited/produced by Bert de Muynck, Mónica Carriço, Ned Rossiter in collaboration with Urban China

deadline for material: Friday, 31 August

Based on material generated out of the orgnets research on creative industries in Beijing, we are producing a beta version magazine in collaboration with Urban China.

Orgnets is interested in alternative publishing models, particularly for online publishing. We consider the occasion of this magazine as one which facilitates further collaboration between Orgnets and Urban China.

To this end, we are seeking content (images, text) from participants and list subscribers in the next 2 weeks. Content already exists in discussions and postings in the list archives, which we will mine, along with material developed out of fieldtrips and info-mapping by Luka Frelih and others (19-31 July).

Interfering lines of different cities

By Shveta Sarda

We are a gathering. It's evening now. Imagine, a man walks through this
gathering with an axe. It's evening, and a man walks through the
gathering with a wheel barrow. And then, again, in this evening, a man
walks past with a spade.

All three have different searches.
All three will find different things in this same location.
All three will have different ways in which they search.
All three will be perceived differently.
All three will find themselves in a different set of relationships.
All three will find their image amongst those who behold them is different.

One will chop, one will gather, one will dig. Seeing the three
implements pass, we who watch them will have a different image of what
our tomorrow will bring. The sounds that accompany these images will
give different senses about the approach of tomorrow.

All of us live in different cities. Cities in which we carry with us

Constructing The Real (E)state of Chinese Contemporary Art

Relections on 798, in 2004

By Thomas J. Berghuis

That night in May my taxi cut through the traffic on Beijing's fourth ring road. I was on my way back from Tongxian driving towards the direction of Dashanzi. All around me it was pitch dark, which allowed me to contemplate the art scene without having to look at the way in which, almost overnight, the rest of the city is reconstructing itself into becoming an international commercial platform. I asked myself: What is it that makes Dashanzi so important as an art district? My thoughts wondered off in the night.

Three topics related to Cultural, Economic and Urban Geographies of Beijing's Creative Industries

By Danny Butt

1) Can you manufacture a creative cluster?

In the West, one of the challenges of creative cluster development is
the level to which governmental initiatives can develop creative
ecologies. Historically, creative clusters have developed informally
- artists begin the process of gentrification by moving into areas of
cheaper rent and with the space to set up studios. During the 60s-80s
the prime locations for artists were in the inner city, which had
been evacuated by the middle-classes who were in the suburbs. The
development of the creative industries has allowed some creative
practitioners to stay, but the incursion of other people keen to
enjoy the newly gentrified "creative environment" price out low-
income artists.

Perhaps the trajectory of 798 is similar to this logic, but there
seems to be a range of different approaches to art village

Harmonious Society and Creative Society

By Shaun Chang

Having achieved spectacular economic growth in the last decade based on a
manufacturing-driven economy, the Chinese Party of Communist is slowly
shifting its focus from economic growth to issues of social injustice
brought about by economic reforms. Former CPC leader Deng Xiaoping said
that the reforms can allow some people to become rich first. The government
is now facing growing anxiety from those who were left behind. Therefore,
the CPC has initiated a nationwide campaign to ‘Construct a Socialistic
Harmonious Society,’ hoping to cope with the growing gap between the rich
and poor. The internet has turned into a platform where social inequity can
be revealed by internet users through chat rooms or blogs, which can then
be picked up by traditional media.

Since the economic reforms and opening-up policies of 1978, China has
witnessed dramatic changes in many areas. But the development of cultural

a guide book?

By Shveta Sarda

*Some questions*

- What are the different time scales of development, sites of erasures, sites of heritage, sites of contested memory, sites of nostalgia, sites of future projections, expansion?
- Sites of major projects (infrastructure, commerce, corporate offices, stadiums, housing, cultural centres, museums, common spaces)? (And the time scale of a process from design to aquisition to usage, eg of a mall)?
- Where do people live? (Marking the signs of occupation).
- Where are the waste dumps? (Structures of sewage management)
- What are the forms of water supply and power supply?
- Which are the areas of congestion and unwanted occupation?
- What is the distribution of labour (forms from professional/managerial, white collar/service, formal blue collar/factory, informal labour and unskilled labour)?

labour, migration, creative industries

By Brett Neilson

While debates on migration often focus on culture and identity, there is a need to supplement these perspectives with an attention to changing labour regimes and the political meaning of controls on labour mobility. Research on the creative industries brings these fields of investigation into contact. The processes of production in this sector undoubtedly involve the deployment of cultural intelligence in the service of profit making activities. They also signal a number of important transitions in the organisation of work: the growth of cognitive or immaterial labour regimes, the growing reliance on service labour, the increasing insecurity of employment, job creation through unpaid work, friendships, social networking, etc. A focus on labour conditions cuts through much of the hype that surrounds creative industries discourse by turning attention to one of its most crucial conditions of possibility.

a short introduction to network ecologies

By Soenke Zehle

What I am most interested in in the context of this research platform is
the extent to which the debates on creativity and the economy of culture
resonate/link up with ecopolitical concerns, especially those developed
in the context of an (emergent) trans national network of organizing
around environmental and social justice issues in the global networks of
electronics production. This emphasis may sound odd, but it is the most
vital area of 'network culture' when it comes to broader ecopolitical
(or if you like Isabelle Stenger's term: cosmopolitical) concerns.

Given the fetishization of dematerialization-through-technology of an
earlier generation of cyberlibertarian theorizing about the network
society, I consider these efforts to have significance beyond the usual
environmental concerns about the toxicity of computers and the
implications of this toxicity to workers or users.