Pudong: The Shanzhai Global City

Jeroen de Kloet and Lena Scheen in European Journal of Cultural Studies 16.6 (2013): 692-709

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Shanghai’s Pudong financial district is known for its spectacular skyline, which Michelle Huang has referred to as “a copy of a global city”, a reading that this article pushes further. What does this “copy of a global city” tell us about the intricate relationships between globalisation, capitalism and urbanity? Whereas Koolhaas proposed the notion of the “generic city” to grasp the future Asian city, this article argues that his reading reifies the conservative premise that globalisation equals homogenisation. Although Abbas’ concept of the “fake” comes closer to what we see emerging in Asia, it simultaneously reifies the problematic idea of an authentic original. Instead, the article proposes reading Pudong as a shanzhai version of the global city: meaning the culture of Chinese pirated, “fake” products. By linking the notion of shanzhai to that of the global city, it aims to recuperate the locality, fluidity and peculiarity of the global city.

Keywords: Ackbar Abbas, China, fake, global city, Rem Koolhaas, Shanghai, shanzhai

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