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Shanghai Lecture Questions, Essay Example

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Essay

1, Shanghai merged East and West according to the pre-condition that it served as a meeting

point for Chinese and Western trade. Shanghai thus emerged as a significant trading center and its city structure reflected the international diversity that comes with trade, as many buildings were not only designed for the endemic population, but for the foreign traders. The major benefactors of Shanghai becoming a focal point could be said to be China, as it gave the latter a firm relationship with the international world through trade, whereas the major trading partners already possessed significant trading points: Shanghai was another trading post, although important, among others.

2, The Chinese capitalist class was liquidated by the communist revolution, insofar as the bourgeois ideology was incompatible with Mao’s communism, which opposed the globalized and exploitative trade that had dominated Shanghai in the previous century. As much of Shanghai’s elite were Westerners involved in business, they were forced to leave Shanghai. The city was furthermore removed of its criminal element, which had developed in Shanghai in conjunction with its status as trade center.

3, Shanghai has been transformed in the neoliberalist era by development that moves away from communism and towards grandiose private initiatives, reflected in the city’s architecture, such as skyscrapers erected by the business class. In this sense, Shanghai once again is a East-West hybrid, as such emphases on enterprise and business show clear commitments to Western free-market principles, while taking on a distinct Chinese flavor according to the country’s ideological hybridization of communism and capitalism.

Shanghai Reading Questions

1, Migration to Shanghai is largely defined by a temporary resident class, which seeks work in the city because of its economic success. Accordingly, the large influx provides much pressure on the city’s already existing infrastructure, whereas it aggravates the social differences between rich and poor. Similar to Manchester and Chicago, the economic successes of a particular city naturally invites migrants who wish to improve their lives. Accordingly, the successful city is confronted with new problems because of its own endemic success, now having to address phenomena such as previously inexistent infrastructural concerns and increased social conflicts.

2, Public space in Shanghai can be reduced to four basic phases. The pre-international trade phase, when it was a site of Chinese trade; the international trade phase, in which Shanghai served as a crucial link between East and West; the Communist phase, where ideological antagonism meant that unrestricted capitalist economic trade was no longer allowed by Maoist policy; and the hybrid stage, in which communist and capitalist ideologies have been fused together. Public space reflects this hybridization, insofar as massive skyscrapers dedicated to economic industry evince the successes of China’s hybrid capitalist-communist policy.

China Video Questions

1, The working and living conditions in Shanghai reflect an economic boom, wherein success and poverty and the gap between have and have nots are clearly displayed, in much similarity to Manchester and Chicago: economic success also creates a widening gap in social classes.

2, The similarity of industrial system, as Marx demonstrated, is because this system possesses invariable characteristics: workers must sell their labor power to survive, whereas the capitalist class controls the means of production, creating a gap within society. Cities are arguably structured in their very public space by this same gap.

3, China appears to be different than Chicago and Manchester because of the centralized planning of the economy. The continued desire to produce economic growth leads to almost absurd projects, such as the construction of cities and shopping areas that remain abandoned, such as Zhengzhao.

4, The great strength of the Chinese industrial system is that private interests do not control the economy, but rather economic decisions are made in terms of a state-based model. This means that there is less chance for exploitation by private companies and the Chinese government can provide a social safety net with its gains. The weakness of Chinese system is that its growth appears insatiable, producing phenomena such as the aforementioned ghost towns.

5, Chinese cities appear different to the industrial system of the past, because they evoke a hybrid of communism and capitalism. This is a new synthesis of what the philosopher Slavoj Žižek has called “authoritarian capitalism”, which as a new ideology produces its own forms of city space.

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