Beyond the residents-businesses clash – urban movements and cultural struggles in Shida, Taipei (2007-2015)
ABSTRACT Between the mid-2000s and the early 2010s, the neighborhoods around National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), an area widely known as Shida, unexpectedly became a tourist hotspot due to the rapidly expanding night market there. Dissatisfied residents mobilized, and for several years they engaged in intense legal and discursive clashes with area businesses, the Taipei City government, and other groups in the community. Drawing on long-term observation, ethnographic research, and in-depth interviews, this article explains Shida’s spatial change from the perspectives of urban movements and cultural struggles. Specifically, it describes how three groups in Shida became organized around divergent purposes, values, and imaginations of community. Deploying different cultural resources–ranging from civic culture, subcultural ethics to community building–the groups further enter into complex negotiation with the spheres of politics and economics. Ultimately, there was no consensus reached in the Shida case, and though many lament the passing of the area’s unique culture and many of its businesses, the dynamics between the small-scale mobilizations in Shida generated invaluable critical local wisdoms that acknowledge the desire for multiple communities in a physical locality.
Keywords: Urban communities, social movements, cultural struggles, subculture scenes, spatial politics, Taipei
Eva Tsai is Associate Professor at National Taiwan Normal University. Her recent research covers topics in East Asian indie-pop screen, inter-Asian fashion trade, and spatial and cultural politics in urban Taipei. She is now making audio features on trans-Asia cultural production. The first series, “Shida stories,” is an extension of the research on Shida area, and is based on the experiences of foreigners and migrants in Taipei.