This paper engages with relational understandings of place and place-making, and highlights the importance of attending to the temporality of place-framing/making in analyzing place politics and place-making practices. Building temporary, strategic alliance is a key step of place-making in place contestations, however, there is so far limited attention paid to the impacts of such alliance building on place-framing/making practices, especially when different actors are positioned in uneven power relations. In this paper, I use a case study of the 798 arts district in Beijing, China to demonstrate that the need of gaining politically powerful actors as allies can have substantial influences on place-framing in the first place and on subsequent place-making results. Drawing on data collected from interviews and policy and planning documents, I show that in a framing of the 798 arts district constructed by artists for saving the arts district from being demolished, the art component of the arts district was concealed, whereas components of architecture, historical significance, and city image were strategically emphasized for gaining support from the municipal government. These elements were later incorporated into the municipal government’s framings of arts districts through policies and planning, but were twisted and realigned with elements like tourism and experience, which ultimately facilitates displacement of artists from the arts district. Thus, I argue, relational approach towards place-framing/making needs to be more attentive to the temporality of place-framing/making, which would allow it to more sufficiently address how various citizen-state relationships shape place-making and to become more globally oriented.
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Zhang, Amy (Recipient), Apr 2014
Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively