Lives on the Borderland: the sociospatial restructuring of a neighbourhood in Shanghai (2006 – 2010)

Principal Investigator: Deljana Iossifova

Funding: Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbukagakusho Scholarship), United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies PhD/Postdoctoral Fellowship, Volkswagen Foundation (Our Common Future)

Diverse socioeconomic, cultural, or otherwise defined groups on the physical borderland between constructed dichotomies like old and new, rural and urban, poor and rich are situated through the initial examination of space. Contemporary lived and envisioned urban realities and identities are explored in relation to historical trajectories of political and social change and enmeshing notions of ethnicity, status, and class.

The study looks at multiple individual and group identities in relation to space today, as it becomes commodity and a signifier for socioeconomic standing, hence contributing to the ordering of individuals based on moral and economic geographies. Recognition (or even symbiotic coexistence), tolerance (implying power-relations and hierarchies), and conflict (when no balance can be found) are identified as the three possible outcomes of coexistence in shared urban space.

Often imposed by the state or dominant group, sociospatial boundaries show osmotic tendencies following continuous everyday encounter and the identification of commonalities between members of different groups. Everyday encounter on the borderland contributes to the weakening of acquired (learned) categories, particularly if lasting relationships between members of different groups can be established.

Finally, the emergence of a social movement involving members of various groups in the fragmented focus area calls into question existing definitions of scale with respect to boundaries in a global context.

Major outputs:

Iossifova, D. (2015) Borderland Urbanism: Seeing between Enclaves. Urban Geography 36 (1), 90-108.

Iossifova, D. (2013) Urban Borderlands. Special issue of Cities.

Iossifova, D. (2012) Place and Identity on the Borderland between Old and New in Shanghai: A Case Study. In: Beall J., Guha-Khasnobis B. and Kanbur R. (eds.) Urbanization and Development in Asia: Multidimensional Perspectives. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 73-94.

Iossifova, D. (2012) Shanghai Borderlands: The Rise of a New Urbanity? In: Edensor T. and Jayne M. (eds.) Urban Theory beyond the West: a world of cities. London and New York: Routledge, 193-206.

Iossifova, D. (2009) Blurring the joint line? Urban life on the edge between old and new in Shanghai. Urban Design International 14, 65-83.

Iossifova D. (2009) Negotiating Livelihoods in a City of Difference: Narratives of Gentrification in Shanghai. Critical Planning 16, 98-116.


Posts | January 7, 2010 1:10 pm