Shenjing He and Junxi Qian (University of Hong Kong)
Our paper “Police and Politics in Aesthetics-Based Urban Governance: Redevelopment and Grassroots Struggles in Enninglu, Guangzhou, China” draws on Jacques Rancière’s theorisation of police, politics, and aesthetics to understand the urban redevelopment process of Enninglu, a historical district in Guangzhou, China. We argue that the boundaries between the police and politics is not fixed; but rather they mutually constitute, negotiate with, and transform each other in an ever-evolving process. We present three stages of these interactions: [i] the commercialised and tourism-centred aesthetic regime imposed by the state was intensively contested by local residents, who pleaded for an alternative “distribution of the sensible” revolving around their collective memories and the cultural value of the area (2006-2010); [ii] a relatively peaceful stage when the policing order incorporated the logic and demands of the politics to promote cultural conservation (2011-2015); and [iii] the impact of the politics on the policing order gradually diminished along with the growing commercialisation under the post-political pro-growth conditions.
We envisage that this paper would be useful for postgraduate level courses related to urban redevelopment, urban governance, post-political cities and planning, and politics of aesthetics. The theoretical framework established in this paper could also be employed to examine urban questions beyond redevelopment, including suburbanisation, climate change and sustainability, and social movements.
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