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Posts tagged ‘参考 reference’

The next meeting of the Happy Friends Reading Club will take place in an uninhabited hutong near the South entrance to Nan Luoguxiang. The discussion is taken from a chapter from one of Yi-Fu Tuan‘s earliest publications, Space and place: the perspective of experience. Download the chapter “Attachment to Homeland” here [PDF, 9.5mb], and the book’s Epilogue there [PDF, 1mb].

We are meeting on the corner at the South entrance to Nan Luoguxiang on Sunday at 2:45pm and will proceed to the location from there. We will head over there, too, anyone is welcome to join, just be on time so that we can head to site. If there are any problems, please phone Mr. Eddy at 15001127304.

For further reading, try aaaaarg‘s Yi-fu Tuan essay collection.

I found this very interesting paper – that was re-published by the online magazine Eurozine – about culture and individuals as bearers of particular cultures. The author argues that the actual conception of multiculturalism shares a lot of its conception with racism theories. For Malik, cultural relativism goes too far since it tends to naturalize the culture and fix the identity of the individuals.

Anyway, I’ll be happy to talk about it!

Kenan Malik, Mistaken identity
Multiculturalist advocacy of collective rights has opened the door in some western
nations for religious law to take precedence over civil law, argues Kenan Malik.
Partly responsible is the idea that human beings are bearers of a particular culture
as opposed to social and hence transformative beings.

[translocal, yes! this is an amazing example of something going on here in switzerland that re-invests public spaces with private cultural-political meanings, and i found it incredibly interesting, this monumentalising of text in the form of political sculpture/advertising beacon… below reprinted from Felix Stalder and the Newborn — Undeliverable? project]

A truck is circulating through Zürich. Seven extra-large letters stand on its open holding area. They form the word NEWBORN. At different locations, the trucks pulls up. A rapper, EKI NOX, performs. But the truck has to leave again after a very short time. Will its cargo remain undeliverable?

This intervention examines how multiple, translocal networks constitute themselves in the common local space of Zürich and how they develop specific forms of visibility and invisibility within the public space. The truck with the NEWBORN sign serves as focal point triggering responses which will render these presences visible to all.

The original meaning of the NEWBORN sign will be evident primarily to migrants from the Balkans. Many of them were either present in person, or via the media, when an almost identical sculpture was unveiled at the Mother Theresa Square in Pristina when the independence of the Kosovo was declared (02.17.2008). For the Kosovo-Albanians, that sculpture symbolizes a new phase of their self-constitution. Not just in the Kosovo, but also in Zürich. Since the establishment of the state, the Kosovo-Albanian community in Switzerland is beginning to (re)present itself in the public sphere on their own terms. Kosovo-Albanians will also understand the rapper whose lyrics are partly in Albanian and how he interprets the NEWBORN sign from his individual perspective.

The issue of a ‘new beginning’ is also present in the Swiss political public, not the least through recurring debates over and votes on the conditions under which foreigners can become Swiss citizens. At the same time, a discourse on ‘shifting identities’ seems to offer — if not a new beginning — then at least an alternative conception of ‘post-national’ political identity.

The third layer which circulation of the NEWBORN through the city of Zürich investigates in the capturing of the public space through commercial actors and their interest. The EURO2008, which starts while the intervention is taking place, pushes this development to new dimensions. Across the city highly controlled areas of intensive advertisement (fan zones) are being erected. For those who do not behave according to protocol special temporary detention facilities are being erected so that they can be removed swiftly from the public space. The degree to which the public and imaginary space as already been captured by commercialism will lead most people who see the NEWBORN circulating through the streets to interpret it as just another advertisement signage to be set up somewhere in the city.

The Project NEWBORN — Undeliverable? conducts research into the constitution and interaction of multiple, parallel publics within the local space of Zurich shaped by the dynamics of translocal migration, national identity and globalized commercialism. Such a research endeavor needs to take place in the public space itself. Only by intervening directly the latent, often invisible dynamics can be brought to the surface. Activating existing and triggering new dynamics is an essential
part of the approach. The interventions are being documented and material
will be made available online and offline.

NEWBORN — Undeliverable? will take place June 5-7 in Zürich. The precise locations of the interventions will not be announced in advance. Stay tuned.

here is the first article that I am posting about public space. I found this one interesting because it adresses the differences between public space in western societies and in Asia – in this case, Vietnam. I find interesting the notions of inside/outside, private/public/state and the materialization of these concepts into urban environment.

Here is the full paper.

what i like about him is his ability to talk optimistically about these issues without oversimplifying, going so far as to even near the poetic in drawing out the complexities… when i just felt paralysed…

Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2008 01:38:09 +0100
From: Brian Holmes
Subject: Re: <nettime> Brits in hock–or, Atlas shrugged again
To: nettime-l@kein.org
Message-ID: <200803290138.10202.brian.holmes@wanadoo.fr>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”iso-8859-1″

On Friday 28 March 2008 22:06:41 Dan S. Wang wrote:

> The reform era could also be called the Era of Devolution, meaning, while the central govern-
> ment maintains controls over national economic levers, the on-the-ground autonomy of the
> provincial, prefectural, and municipal governments has never been greater. It is not really a
> surprise that the greatest explosion of industry and commerce happened in the south, faraway
> from the oversight and political baggage of Beijing, where local layers of government can act
> with independence. Though the usual political machinations figured into his ascension, it is
> also not suprising that the period of great acceleration corresponded with the rise of Jiang
> Zemin, the former mayor of Shanghai, a man who learned to govern a city by always looking
> out for its own local interests.

This is getting good! When Dan uses his lived experience to bring in the micro-political play of influence and constraint on both sides of the US/China divide, then the discussion becomes truly interesting — because we’re finally getting beyond the massiveness of the global division of labor. The big trap is to consider nations or regions as unitary subjects, arrayed against each other in the global ring, when in fact they are seething molecular cauldrons of differences and strategies and needs and aspirations whose dynamics then enter into reciprocal (though usually unconscious) relations, via trade and money but also through immigration, media, communication, cultural motifs, educational processes, vastly complex and specific realities that never stop intersecting. What we have been trying to get at with Continental Drift is precisely the imbrication of scales: intimate, urban, national, continental, global. It’s characteristic of contemporary societies to find all them all intermeshing simultaneously in every possible combination of intensities, and though it’s dauntingly complex at times, it’s also just world society, the everyday experience. To make sense of the patterns is to anticipate the possibility of a new democratic politics, even across the huge gaps that are set up by the global divisions.

Something really interesting in Dan’s post, that people might not understand right off the bat, is this idea that the Reform era has been an age of Devolution, i.e. delegation of central government power to localities. The Chinese state appears monolithic, because it has kept the control of mediated appearance, i.e. CCTV and the People’s Daily and the Great Firewall. But that plus the army and the police are the major functions that made the neoliberal cut. The thing is that reform-style development was not carried out in a centralized way, through the discipline of planning, but instead by ceding the rights to lease out property to local collectivities (villages, cities, provinces), and then requiring them to meet certain targets with the resources at their disposal. This, as Friedrich Hayek taught, was a much more quick and efficient way generate and apply information, and thereby, to move straight into the classic capitalist contradictions! What this means once again is that the very motor of development — in this case, local initiative — makes geographical and social harmony impossible to simply legislate from the center. It can’t be done, because the government has simply given up authority, in exchange for unlocking the local productivity. And that is very much the trap of the neoliberal governance model, not only in China.

What that means is that the molecular processes of capitalism — on the one hand, those fiercely competitive battles among all the individual “China prices,” and on the other, the repercussions of all those individual reticences to consume that are about to be felt in the West — cannot be very easily controlled or compensated for under the neoliberal model. And as soon as the “self-organized” Hayekian initiatives of structured finance cease to ensure trans-continental coordination, what you’re gonna have is plain old chaos, almost random pressures and aleatory interplays of influences. What can be done, by those of us involved in culture and communication, is to provoke a little more awareness of this chaotic molecularity, to retrace more paths of the kind that Dan has taken the care to point out, and in this way, to make more people realize that on the other end of the commodity-chains there are also human beings in difficult situations. To the extent that long-term perturbations really are set off by the housing crash and its repercussions I think this kind of micro-narrative can be a positive contribution, one entirely within the powers of relatively ordinary people, particularly if they speak a couple languages and have a networked camera or keyboard. Let’s all try to make the chaos a bit more interesting!

best, BH

haven’t read this piece yet, saving it for the airplane, i think, but i quoted him before about Lin Yilin and think he is pretty sharp!

[Brian Holmes’ “One World, One Dream”]

did you give me this text? not sure anymore… but it’s a beautiful one about asia art identity modernity

yesterday I have watched a nice movie about cities in china… “metropolis-report from china” a kind of remake of metropolis (1922). i met the two authors, they are very “fresh”.

Here are some of the texts we were talking about last week…not everything is interesting, but they are certainly very inspiring to explore disjunctures, encounters and globalization:

[modernity at large]
[life of objects]

From “grassroots globalization” :

It has now become something of a truism that we are functioning in a world fundamentally characterised by objects in motion. These objects include ideas and ideologies, people and goods, images and messages, technologies and techniques.
This is a world of flows (Appadurai 1996). It is also, of course, a world of structures, organisations, and other stable social forms. But the apparent stabilities that we see are, under close examination, usually our devices for handling objects characterised by motion. The greatest of these apparently stable objects is the nation-state, which is today frequently characterised by floating populations, transnational politics within national borders, and mobile configurations of technology and expertise.
But to say that globalization is about a world of things in motion somewhat understates the point. The various flows we see—of objects, persons, images, and discourses—are not coeval, convergent, isomorphic, or spatially consistent.
They are in what I have elsewhere called relations of disjuncture. By this I mean that the paths or vectors taken by these kinds of things have different speeds, axes, points of origin and termination, and varied relationships to institutional structures in different regions, nations, or societies. Further, these disjunctures themselves precipitate various kinds of problems and frictions in different local situations. Indeed, it is the disjunctures between the various vectors characterising this world-in-motion that produce fundamental problems of livelihood, equity, suffering, justice, and governance.
Examples of such disjunctures are phenomena such as the following: Media flows across national boundaries that produce images of well-being that cannot be satisfied by national standards of living and consumer capabilities; flows of discourses of human rights that generate demands from workforces that are repressed by state violence which is itself backed by global arms flows; ideas about gender and modernity that circulate to create large female workforces at the same time that cross-national ideologies of “culture,” “authenticity,” and national honor put increasing pressure on various communities to morally discipline just these working women who are vital to emerging markets and manufacturing sites.

If globalization is characterised by disjunctive flows that generate acute problems of social well-being, one positive force that encourages an emancipatory politics of globalization is the role of the imagination in social life (Appadurai 1996). The imagination is no longer a matter of individual genius, escapism from ordinary life, or just a dimension of aesthetics. It is a faculty that informs the daily lives of ordinary people in myriad ways: It allows people to consider migration, resist state violence, seek social redress, and design new forms of civic association and collaboration, often across national boundaries. This view of the role of the imagination as a popular, social, collective fact in the era of globalization recognises its split character. On the one hand, it is in and through the imagination that modern citizens are disciplined and controlled—by states, markets, and other powerful interests. But is it is also the faculty through which collective patterns of dissent and new designs for collective life emerge. As the imagination as a social force itself works across national lines to produce locality as a spatial fact and as a sensibility (Appadurai 1996), we see the beginnings of social forms without either the predatory mobility of unregulated capital or the predatory stability of many states. Such social forms have barely been named by current social science, and even when named their dynamic qualities are frequently lost. Thus terms like “international civil society” do not entirely capture the mobility and malleability of those creative forms of social life that are localised transit points for mobile global forms of civic and civil life.


from fotini’s obsession during grad school:

As far as the postmodern urban environment is concerned, Jameson claims that the mutation in built space and the new hyperspace that has been created has not yet been accompanied by the necessary transformations in the human subject in order for it to be able to perceive and grasp this space. This has led to the inability of the individual subject to locate itself in reference to its surroundings and to cognitively map its position in the world. There is an analogous experience on a sociopolitical level in the inability of the individual subject to map the global multinational world in which it is located. Toward the end of the essay Jameson introduces the concept of cognitive mapping that can “enable a situational representation of the part of the individual subject to that vaster and properly unrepresentable totality which is the ensemble of the city’s structure as a whole.” Through this practice the individual can resist the otherwise totally homogenizing space of global multinationalism, and at the same time conceive the connections between the intimate local dimensions of subjective experience and the abstract and impersonal forces of the global system.

In this sense cognitive mapping is a postmodern practice. We could actually go on and claim that there can be no cognitive map as a product of this practice, since what is important is the process of mapping itself and not its outcome. Both Jameson and the Situationists have promoted through their mappings a political understanding of space and made evident their intention to construct new social relations. The practice of cognitive mapping can help us coordinate the discontinuous realities in which we find ourselves and give us a sense of orientation. Even if we can never actually produce a cognitive map, our attempt to do so can prove to be a first step in the restructuring of our world and of our position in it and will definitely influence our relations to each other and to the urban environment. As Jameson concludes at the end of his essay on cognitive mapping “even if we cannot imagine the productions of such an aesthetic, there may, nonetheless, as with the very idea of Utopia itself, be something positive in the attempt to keep alive the possibility of imagining such a thing.”

“The epidemic of ‘India’, ‘China’, ‘Africa’ and ‘Mexico’ exhibitions that have done the rounds of major European venues in the last decade or so may have unwittingly contributed a jubilant affirmation of extant stereotypes and inaugurated the career of a few new ones. Notions of identity can get powerfully linked to the question of provenance when distance is brought into the mix, because things from afar are firstly and most importantly read in terms of the fact that they are from afar. What something is becomes eclipsed by the fact of where it is from.

Everything that comes from a distant geographical-cultural point of origin is then read predominantly against a matrix of things that too are seen as originating from the same space. This leads to the assumption that if enough objects from a given space were to be brought together at a time, then the objects themselves would automatically yield information about what made them look alike to the distant observer. However, their ‘likenesses’ may in fact be nothing other than an averaging out of what made them unlike the observer’s own idea of himself/herself or his/her familiar co-ordinates.

This arbitrary ‘likeness’, a conceptual fiction, can also help construct a grid of authenticity, a criterion that can be used to index all things that originate from a given space. In such a way, the distant observer can judge an object that is named alien in terms of how true or authentic it seems to its designated alien-ness.

This search for the ‘authentic’ other is a fallacy born of a desire to view objects at a distance solely in terms of their alterity. However, the mere fact of alterity has nothing to do with distance. Things can be alien, or familiar, regardless of where they are found: close at hand, or far away. The aggrandisement, or amplification, of alterity is a fact that has little to do with distance but gets attributed to it, so as to distract attention from the scopic desires of the distant observer. Deep within this desire is a paradox of anxiety about the contamination that contemplation can induce.

Here, desire and anxiety intersect to create an interesting phenomenon. Things from afar, when telescoped and magnified and brought close to the field of the observer’s attention, can generate a fear of invasion, of infection and contamination. The maintenance of their ‘alterity’ within the distant observer’s scopic regime can both stoke that anxiety and also be seen to act as a prophylactic against it. It works by inoculating the observer from the infection of the alien by subjecting him/her to ‘difference’ only in controlled doses.

What comes undone?

What can come undone is the assumption that cultures and places stand in anything other than a densely networked relationship to one another. Prejudices and extant notions can be subverted by the fact of resonance and the exposition of interwoven threads of history, politics, and the web that emerges from the commerce across distances in images and ideas. This can lead to modest epiphanies, such that it becomes difficult for any one person not to acknowledge the debts they owe to others who may be quite different from themselves. To do this is not to buy into a glib universalism, because all of this can happen as much due to inequalities in power and violence as to voluntary exchange and intercourse. The simple fact remains that the world cannot any longer be thought of in monadic terms. The privileging of centrality and achievement that may have been the ruling illusion of some protagonists and advocates of any cultural matrix comes undone when faced with the intimate relationship that their trophies have with the material of other cultures. The distant observer then begins to see the debts that one might owe to the other. Hierarchies, both temporal and spatial have then to be held in abeyance in favour of more realistic assessments based on careful observation.”

[from “Once again, to the distant observer”, Raqs Media Collective]

I was completely humbled and impressed by the quiet but critical intelligence of this essay — the kind of writing that i long for, and some interesting parallels regarding disjunctions in space. Different from what we talked about in the last post, which i suppose talked more about an intra-disjunction as opposed to the intercultural gaps referred to here. But abstracting the conversation into the geometries of the gaze of objects in space in interesting. In the case of china, can we consider the bending of space and time (beijing construction, real estate boom, socio-cultural angst, apathy, inefficacy) in response to the inability to fix one’s gaze upon anything solid here?