Taking Part in Chinese cities: rethinking “our cities” in Shanghai
Urbanization over in last three decades in China has produced and accumulated more and more complex problems and challenges in everyday life. People need different spaces and ways to learn about them, not only to understand what kind of problems they face, but also find a way to act together in order to change their passive situation and take part in the process which always seem to be dominated by government and technology. “Womende Chengshi” (Our Cities) citizen forum was built in 2012 and has lasted for almost 5 years in Shanghai. It aims to create a new educational space for citizens to discuss emerging city problems and to imagine alternative ways of urban life. After a concise introduction about this forum in Chinese social context, this paper will focus on three points. First, while the ideal setting suggests that citizens are everyone living in the city, “Our Cities” actually confronts the concrete ones shaped by various spaces and limited times in the whole city system. So how to struggle with different forces in limited time and space in everyday life is the main duty this forum needs to face. The third point follows: what kind of standard we could have to estimate such self-education process?
Self-education; the right to the city; public space; citizen
Luo Xiaoming is an Associate Professor working in the Program in Cultural Studies of Shanghai University and the chief editor of Refeng Xueshu (e-journal) since the mid of 2017. Her research interests are: urban culture and social space in everyday life, especially on how to rethink and create new kinds of public space in contemporary China. She is one of the organizers of the “our cities” citizen forum since 2012, whose aim is inviting ordinary people to come together to discuss city’s problem.