Accepted paper:

The Materialist Urbanization and the War of Gods


Xiaoyang Zhu (Peking University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper, in the first place, examines the role of spirituality and belief played in the struggle over the material space in the process of China's urbanization, especially the so-called "transforming the urban villages in city" (chengzhongcun gaizao).

Paper long abstract:

These gods partake in the fight for spaces in the demolishment campaigns, thus being renewed and strengthened by different players. I will provide a description of these war of "gods", and explore human spirituality and belief intermingled in the war against materials in a time of "materialization." The second theme of the paper is to interpret 'Home' (家园), a frequent key symbol in the process of China's urbanization and urban redevelopment. In recent years, it has become a common practice for Chinese citizens to resort to the slogan of 'protecting our homes' in their campaigns to protect their legitimate rights and interests. 'Home protection' is in line with the basic political doctrine in Chinese socio-cultural discourse. For example, it goes with the idea of 'protecting one's life and one's own home'(保护身家性命). At present, the politics of ordinary people and their political life starts with how they feel about their homes and how they protect them. The concept of 'home' thus does not go well with such fashionable concepts as community, civil society, or 'individual-society' in socio-political theories. When 'home' becomes the starting point of substratum political practice, socio-political theories should consider a paradigm shift to the study of 'body, home and nation/country'. For example, a political study on opposing officialdom should start with the experience of 'body-home', replacing the idea of 'state -society' and the polarized social theory of 'individual vs. society' with a framework of 'body, home, nation/country and universe(身家国天下)'.

panel SE09
Living heritage in China today