Based on my long-term ethnographic research in the traditional alleyway neighborhoods in Shanghai, known as lilong (“li” meaning neighborhood and “long” meaning lane), I discuss “popular stories” surrounding their existence. As a legacy of the city's treaty port era (1842–1932), the lilong houses and neighborhoods are to Shanghai more than just a physical structure, but also a distinct cultural relic. I focus on the “moral responsibility” to live a life that aligns with one's narrative of historic preservation. I demonstrate how the forces of globalization play a major role in the changing socio-political landscape of life in lilong neighborhoods. We could better understand those forces by placing them in the context of morality. I here reveal three major themes: the discourse around the ideas of “authentic Shanghai life,” the perceptions of lilong neighborhoods in relation to the political economy of heritage brought about by the popular knowledge about Shanghai, and how architecture tells its stories of the city and cultures.
There are debates as to when the period of “modern China” began. If one is to rely upon the popular perception that China became modern as a result of the influence of western modernity (usually by force), then the defeat of the Qing Empire in the Opium War in the mid-eighteen century marked the beginning of modern China. Shanghai was one of a few coastal cities in which the defeated China was forced to allow foreigners to enjoy extraterritorial rights in their new treaty ports. Thus, Shanghai had changed drastically from a small town into the most important port in Asia, where the world’s largest trading and banking city were located. A series of wars (e.g., Sino-Japanese War, Civil War) and political campaigns (e.g., Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution) disrupted the city’s growth, but since its treaty port era there has not been any city in that is more economically viable than Shanghai.
A review of this book chapter from UrbaChina, European project: "The last part of this book is entitled “architectural expressions” and focuses on both old and new buildings in Chinese cities (Shanghai’s lilong and Hong Kong’s shopping malls).Like Lena Scheen, Non Arkaraprasertkul (Harvard University) focuses on Shanghai’s typical lane houses: the “longtang” or “lilong”. The author does not call for the preservation of the “lilong” at all costs. Indeed, he presents us with the drawbacks of these traditional houses, such as the poor conditions they offer to their inhabitants and the need for local authorities to increase the density of Shanghai’s city centre. However, he regrets that the social societies and residents are too often excluded from the process of decision making in matters of “lilong” preservation. He also stresses the informal heritage that the lilong offer. When a decision is made in favour of preservation, it should not only concern the buildings, but also the residents’ social life. The author calls for more research to be done on the lilong."
In this paper, I address both the practical and architectural conflicts that arise from an anthropological perspective regarding the late low-rise vernacular housing legacy in Shanghai known as the Lilong. Before the 1978 reform, the Lilong houses were the dominating – if not only – forms of housing in Shanghai. The Lilong houses and neighborhoods symbolize modern Shanghai history and urban neighborhood life through micro-politics and interconnectedness of micro-communities. Life in the Lilong neighborhoods has its advantage which is the ―sense of community, intimacy, and the continuity of history,‖ which the individual room in sterile high-rise apartments cannot provide. The Lilong houses today stand in sharp contrast with the growing trend of property-led growth, fueled by the changing family structure of post-reform urban Chinese society that favors higher density and higher return housing development. That said, whereas many scholars utilize heritage rhetoric to claim that the Lilong houses and neighborhoods are the representation of the history of Shanghai; therefore must be preserved to maintain the identity of the city, there are a number of sensible arguments about the downsides of the Lilong houses, including those coming from the residents themselves. I look at how such conflicts play out, identifying the key elements of the discourse and the reality of this situation.
In this paper, I discuss different perspectives on a particular issue in urban China in the context of market-oriented economy since the opening of the reform of China in the late 1970s. The subject of this dissertation is the late low-rise vernacular housing legacy, which was begun to be built in Shanghai since the mid-nineteenth century known as the Lilong. Before the reform, the Lilong houses were the dominating – if not only – forms of housing in Shanghai. The Lilong houses and neighborhoods symbolize modern Shanghai history and urban neighborhood life through micro-politics and interconnectedness of micro-communities. The Lilong houses today stand in sharp contrast with the growing trend of property-led growth that favors higher density and higher return housing development. Life in the Lilong neighborhoods is inconvenient compared to the modern life in high-rise apartments, but life in the Lilong neighborhoods also has its advantage which is the “sense of community, intimacy, and the continuity of hiDebating Interdisciplinarilystory,” which the individual room in high-rise apartments cannot provide. On the other hand, whereas many scholars claim that the Lilong houses and neighborhoods are the representation of the history of Shanghai; therefore must be preserved to maintain the identity of the city, there are a number of arguments about the drawbacks of the Lilong houses, Debating Interdisciplinarilyfrom the perspective both of the local government and of the residents themselves. Debating these different perspectives through interdisciplinary discussions involving not only history, architecture, housing studies but also social studies, anthropology and sociology, I aim at urging scholars to go regard Shanghai’s changing socio-cultural infrastructure into a larger context of the study of contemporary China, and to go into the field to study the situation in situ.
Nostalgia has consistently been a motivation for the study of contemporary Chinese urban life. Scholars have produced an abundance of work on urbanism from a pro-historic preservation perspective and, for example, have long claimed that the lilong house (‘li’ means neighbourhoods, ‘long’ means lanes) is an efficient form of housing for the residents of Shanghai. Non Arkaraprasertkul argues, however, that these studies fall short in terms of future city planning, as they omit the personal experiences and viewpoints of urban residents regarding the efficiency of such dwellings.
How and why contemporary Shanghai has taken the form it has over the last thirty years and its role in the ‘‘New’’ Shanghai through the underlying top—down governance and planning process? Answering this question, rather than taking solely the historical path in documenting the process of development, this article represents an attempt to make sense of the process of development through the underlying forces that shaped and reshaped the physical forms of the city. Particularly, this article looks at distinctive spatial forms and social and political formations associated with Shanghai before, under, and after the Mao Zedong. By weaving planning history with critical analysis of Chinese sociopolitics, this article chronologically traces the formative history of Shanghai’s unique urbanism, building on existing literature and provides a wide coverage of the episodic accounts of Shanghai’s planning history. When the role of individuals in the making of Shanghai becomes obvious especially after the reform in the early 1980s, this article pays attention to their roles in the development of Shanghai and the ‘‘power and politics’’ they represented, which fostered the resurrection of the city.
This book is an attempt to understand the phenomenon of urban transformation in Shanghai, one of the world's fastest growing cities Having once been a lucrative treaty port, Shanghai has re-embarked on a quest to become a global economic powerhouse through the combination of an assimilated industrialized cityscape and the startling industriousness of Chinese pragmatism from 1980 onwards. Driven by the momentum of an increasingly open market-oriented economy within the politics of a state-controlled socialist entity, Shanghai's built form and urban environment have been conceived as a cultural construction of the conspicuous consumption of the global financial market. Central to the aim of this book are the questions on how the global market was utilized, what internal and external forces were at play, and the importance given to the perception of values. This book outlines the city's pragmatic developments dominated largely by its politics. "The book offers a well-thought-out perspective in understanding the amazing transformation of Shanghai -- an excellent foundation for exploring contemporary city-building issues." Dr Reinhard Goethert, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Fredric Jameson (1934-), a critical theorist and Marxist philosopher who has written numerous books and articles on critical theory, is recognized as the first thinker who brought postmodernism's critical theory into architectural discourse. In Jameson's own words, “it was the representation of architecture that sparked dynamic dialogues of postmodernism as a cultural logic.” Architecture thus plays a most significant role in the formulation of his postmodernist theory. Jameson's contribution has become one of the major areas of research for several prominent architectural theorists and architects. This paper reviews Jameson's shift in his approach from Marxist theory to postmodernism. The investigation into this shift not only sheds light on the early theorizing of architecture, but also begins to add a historical dimension to various strands of interdisciplinary thinking on architecture and its philosophical undergirdings. Following a historical introduction to Jameson's theories and criticisms of architecture, the paper then covers his life and theories; clarifies his concepts of Marxism, postmodernism, and architecture, with particular attention to his interest in historicism and the role of built forms in cultural construction; and, lastly, delivers a thorough criticism of his works that have influenced architectural disciplines.