Event Apr/05
Shenjing He: The Creative Spatial Fix: Making Creative Cities in China

As the idea of creative city becoming a universal panacea for economic stagnancy and urban boosterism, the heavy dependency on creative fixes has widely spread to cities around the globe through urban networks and neoliberal urban policies. The formulaic repertoire of urban growth strategies, such as property-led redevelopment, commercialization and gentrification, has been retrofitted around the theme of creativity to overcome barriers of capital accumulation. Since the early 2000s, Shanghai and Shenzhen, two economic powerhouses in China, have launched ambitious ‘creative city making’ projects involving innovative entrepreneurial policies and various spatialized capital accumulation beyond the formulaic repertoire imported from the west. This research proposes the idea of ‘the creative spatial fix’ to interpret the political economy of creativity in the Chinese city from two aspects: creative entrepreneurial governance and creative reconfiguration of the built environment. Drawing on case studies in Shanghai and Shenzhen, this research scrutinizes the spatiality of creative fixes and the creativity of spatial fixes. This paper concludes that creative city making is essentially a means of crisis management building upon the land interest-centered accumulation regime in the era of deindustrialization, in which creativity has been used as a neoliberal alibi to inaugurate movements of revitalizing the built environment, while creative and flexible governing policies are in place to push for spatialized capital accumulation.   

Shenjing He is associate professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at The University of Hong Kong. She is the Chinese editor of Urban Studies (SAGE), and a member of the international editorial advisory board of Journal of Urban Affairs (Wiley Blackwell), Geography Compass (Wiley Blackwell), International Planning Studies (Routledge), and Area Development and Policy (Taylor and Francis). Prof. He's primary research interests focus on urban redevelopment/ gentrification, housing differentiation and socio-spatial inequality, rural-urban migration and urban poverty. She has published more than seventy journal articles and book chapters in English and Chinese. She is the co-author of “Urban Poverty in China” (Edward Elgar, 2010), co-editor of “Locating Right to the City in the Global South” (Routledge, 2013), “Urban living: Mobility, Sociability, and Wellbeing” (Springer, 2016), and “Changing China: Migration, Communities and Governance in Cities” (Routledge, 2016). She is also the lead guest editor of several special issues for Environment and Planning A (2012), Urban Studies (2015), Eurasian Geography and Economics (2015), and Urban Geography (2016). Prof. He was listed by Elsevier as one of the most cited researchers in mainland China (social sciences) for three consecutive years (2015-2017).