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WORLDMAKING FROM A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE:
A DIALOGUE WITH CHINA
從全球視閾看“世界”的建構:對話中國

Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking

Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking

Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking
Image Credit: Jannis Schulze

Social networks, communication flows, and power relations are condensed in cities. Global trends spread more quickly through transnational networks between cities. Cities thus function as catalysts, accelerating processes of worldmaking and change.

China's cities have become powerful contenders in the worldwide competition between cities for global capital, labor, and recognition. At the same time, the increasing interconnectedness of Chinese cities, especially since China joined the WTO in 2001, has left deep traces in the socio-spatial order of Chinese cities.

The project focuses, among others, on the following questions: How are social worlds created, transformed and/or marginalized in China's cities in times of rapid social change, advancing urbanization and globalization? How do locally shaped social worlds influence the contention of Chinese cities for global resources and recognition? How do Chinese cities then change the rules and norms of this contention?

It conceptualizes cities both as objects of worldmaking and active agents in world-making processes. Moreover, it combines two analytical foci: a structuralist perspective discussing the interconnectedness of global capitalism, forms of global governance and authoritarian governance structures in China with processes of worldmaking; and a micro perspective on social interaction and communication in interpersonal relations and social worlds of manageable size (family, neighborhood, city district).


Activities of this project: Talks, Lectures, Presentations, Workshops, Interviews

Article "Every good garden needs to be fertilized" by Nadine Godehardt and Björn Alpermann published in Der Tagesspiegel

On September 9, 2022, the Tagesspiegel published an opinion article by Nadine Godehardt (Asia Research Group at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik) and Björn Alpermann (University of Würzburg, project leader in the project "Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking") with the title "Every good garden needs to be fertilized - Scientific cooperation with China must not flag despite all problems".

Participation at “Cross Cultural Chairs” Summer Workshop, Almaty, by Ryanne Flock

From August 7-21, 2022, Ryanne Flock, participated at the summer workshop “Cross Cultural Chairs”, held in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This workshop brought together a group of international creatives and social scientists aiming to contrast the sedentary with nomadic culture and to redesign the saddle as the latter's ultimate expression.

Lecture "Social Sciences, Humanities and Liberal Arts: China and the West" by Liu Kang

On June 29, 2022, hosted by the project "Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking", the speaker Liu Kang, Professor of Chinese Studies, and Director of Duke Program of Research on China at Duke University, and fellow of the Göttingen project "Conceptions of World Order and Their Social Carrier Groups" gave a lecture on the relationship between (Eurocentric) universalism and Chinese exceptionalism within the dominant modern Western institutions and modes of knowledge today.

Documenta 15: Talk on cultural exchange to and from Beijing

On June 19, 2022, as part of documenta 15, Antonie Angerer and experimental musician Zhu Wenbo talked about the recent shifts in Beijing's urban transformation and their impact on the art scene.

Network meeting "Krise und Neuordnung" (Crisis and Reordering)

Between June 13 and 14, 2022, members of the Joint Center for Advanced Studies participated in the network meeting Krise and Neuordnung (Crisis and Reordering) organized by the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) and the University of Hamburg. The event dealt with questions of what constitutes “crisis” across political, environmental and economic domains, and the forms of global and national re-ordering that emerge out of crises.

Panel Talk "Migration and Urbanisation in a Globalised China"

Hosted by the International Development Department of the University of Birmingham (UK), this panel brought together two speakers from the the project “Social Worlds: China’s Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking” and Susanne Choi, Professor at the Department of Sociology and Co-Director of the Gender Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The presentation looked into political attempts to “localize” migration and asks about the consequences for individual households and rural society in China.

Presentation “Performing urban futures: Digital spectacle in early urbanization process of Xiongan New Area” by Antonie Angerer

During a two-day workshop on the Urban Digital Spectacle in London (UK), Antonie Angerer presented her paper “Performing urban futures: Digital spectacle in early urbanization process of Xiongan New Area”.

Annual Conference of the Joint Center "Global Conflicts, Global Collaboration: China in a Changing World Order"

From June 2 – 4, 2022, Göttingen University hosted the annual conference of the Joint Center. This event brought together project members and fellows from all the Joint Center’s participating locations, as well as additional invited scholars. Under the umbrella of the theme "Global Conflicts, Global Collaboration: China in a Changing World Order", the conference – among other subjects – discussed arenas where shared global issues emerge but also become sources of geopolitical contestations.

Public Lecture "Homeland, Refuge, and Magnet: Mecca in the Travels and Imaginaries of Chinese Muslims" by Janice Hyeju Jeong

Hosted by the project "Social Worlds: China's Cities as Places of Worldmaking" (Würzburg), Janice Hyeju Jeong, postdoctoral fellow in the project " Conceptions of World Order and Their Social Carrier Groups" (Göttingen), gave a lecture on May 11, 2022, on the topic "Homeland, Refuge, and Magnet: Mecca in the Travels and Imaginaries of Chinese Muslims."

Digital Dialogue #7 "Making social worlds visible - A talk around art projects documenting Beijing’s recent urban transformation"

On April 27, 2022, as part of the Joint Center's Digital Workshop Series "Digital Dialogues", five representatives of an interdisciplinary group of artists, researchers, architects presented their work reflecting the various facets of urban change in Beijing and its impact on different social worlds.

Article "An argument against moral crusading" by Björn Alpermann and Gunter Schubert published in the FAZ

On March 9, 2022, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung an article by Björn Alpermann and Gunter Schubert entitled "Gegen das moralische Kreuzrittertum - Chinaforschung ist kein politischer Aktivismus. Sie muss taktische Zugeständnisse machen, um den Weg der Erkenntnis offen zu halten. Die Konformismusvorwürfe mancher Beobachter entbehren der Grundlage." (Trans.: Against moral crusading - China studies is not political activism. It must make tactical concessions to maintain an open path to knowledge. The accusations of conformism by some observers lack foundation.)

New publication"Global City Agency and Multilevel Governance in China" by Amelie Thürmer and Elena Meyer-Clement

Published in March 2022, "Global City Agency and Multilevel Governance in China" by Amelie Thürmer and Elena Meyer-Clement showcases their research on how the institutions and governance instruments of the Chinese party-state shape the global agency of cities and how these structures influence the work of the various city networks operating in China.

Panel contribution “The Situation in Ukraine – China’s hesitant position towards Russia’s invasion" by Elena Meyer-Clement

As part of the panel "The War in Ukraine - seen from Russia, Eastern, Europe, and the World (English/Danish), Elena Meyer-Clement analyzed the situation in Ukraine and China's hesitant attitude towards the Russian invasion on March 4, 2022.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann on Omikron and the Olympic Games

On February 23, 2022, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research published on its website an interview with Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann on the topics of Omicron and the Olympics.

Digital Dialogue #6 "Ecological Worldmaking – Literary and Cinematic Explorations of Environmental Crises"

As part of the Digital Workshop Series "Digital Dialogues" of the Joint Center, Winnie L. M. Yee (Hong Kong) and Catrin Gersdorf (Würzburg) presented their studies on ecological crises based on examples of (Chinese) film and (American) literature. The exchange revealed overlapping perspectives and the importance of ecological concerns as a major site of worldmaking.

Opinion article in VAN Magazine with contributions by Barbara Mittler and Björn Alpermann on classical music in China

On February 9, 2022, VAN Magazin published an opinion piece by Hartmut Welcher entitled "Contact avoidance - China tours of German orchestras serve almost exclusively marketing strategies and political instrumentalization. The much-invoked "cultural exchange" hardly takes place. A missed opportunity", contributions to which were made by Barbara Mittler and Björn Alpermann.

Opinion Article "Olympic stress test" published by Björn Alpermann at IPG Journal

On January 31, 2022, the IPG Journal published an opinion article by Björn Alpermann on "Olympic Stress Test - Competition for the Best Pandemic Policy: Hosting the Winter Games is a severe test for China's "zero-COVID" strategy."

Webtalk „Chinese Globalization and Modern Metropolises" Prof. Dr. Elena Meyer-Clement in conversation with Dr. Dirk Assmann and Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer.

What is life like in Chinese megacities? How international and globalized are urban cultures and lifestyles in China? How do cities in China and Europe differ and what challenges are similar? What can we learn from Chinese metropolises and, conversely, what can Chinese cities learn from European examples? Prof. Dr. Elena Meyer-Clement, Dr. Dirk Assmann and Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer discussed these and many other questions in a joint roundtable on January 20, 2022.

Social Worlds Workshop

On January 13-15th, the research team of "Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking" invited former and future fellows as well as interested colleagues for a workshop in a hybrid format to Würzburg. Coming from different empirical research backgrounds, the participants presented their perspectives on social worlds as sites of knowledge production in Chinese urbanization.

Article in the Augsburger Allgemeine featuring Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann on recent sanctions of craft beer brewers in China

The Augsburger Allgemeine published an article on 29.10.2021 entitled "China bans amateur craft brewers: The state joins in the drinking", for which Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann provided his China expertise as an interview partner.

Article by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle with a contribution by Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann on China's presentation to the outside world

On 28.10.2021, an article by Nadine Wojcik entitled "Confucius Institutes facing criticism" was published by Deutsche Welle, in which Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann comments on China's presentation to the outside world.

Presentation "Is there a Chinese gentrification? Urban redevelopment and displacement processes in the People's Republic of China" by Prof. Dr. Elena Meyer-Clement

As part of the 53. Deutsche Historikertag, Prof. Dr. Elena Meyer-Clement presented her research on "Is there a Chinese Gentrification? Urban Redevelopment and Displacement Processes in the People's Republic of China".

Interview with Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann on China's cultural policy and the influence on film productions published in the Heilbronner Stimme

Published in the Heilbronner Stimme on 23.09.2021, Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann talked about China's cultural policy with regard to its growing influence on international film productions.

Roundtable "After the War: Regional Perspectives on Afghanistan" with Prof. Dr. Elena Meyer-Clement

On September 9, 2021, as part of a roundtable of the Asian Futures Seminar Series at the University of Copenhagen, scholars discussed the topic "After the War: Regional Perspectives on Afghanistan" including perspectives of regionally particularly affected countries such as China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and India.

Screening & Talk Series “Urban Governance and Social Worlds in China’s Cities”

As part of an M.A. seminar at the Institute for Chinese Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, everyone interested was invited to participate in the Screening & Talk Series "Urban Governance and Social Worlds in China's Cities". Artists and filmmakers from four documentary films and one literary project were invited to present their projects.

Presentation „Image of City and Imagining the Future Cities” by Antonie Angerer

On May 22nd 2021 Antonie Angerer was invited to speak at the round table conference “Lively New Towns and Villages, A New Way of Life” organized by the China Urban Planning Institute, Yangtze River Delta Department of Tourism and Culture. In a group of experts and local government officials, the China Urban Planning Institute invited for a discussion to analyze the potential of culture and art in rural revitalization processes.