Over this series of blog posts, I have explored the metabolic flows surrounding Shanghai’s urbanisation. Naturally, the development of Shanghai has altered what she produces, how she produces these goods and services, and for whom these are produced for. This has lead to a series of changes in both Shanghai’s built and natural environment, and as a hybrid of socio-natural relations (Swyngedouw, 1996), these are also reflected in the new discourses and relations apparent both in and outside of the city.
Kaika (2005) suggests that nature remains firmly within human construction, through the intertwining of nature at different levels of activity in the city. When we take a closer look at Shanghai, it is hard to ignore the mutual influences of nature on the city and city on nature. Shanghai constantly alters and redirects her natural resources according to her population and modern influences. In turn, this has divided the city in various ways, namely: class, generation, and age. Alongside the push and pull of governance and privatisation in managing nature in the city, social actors in the urbanisation process are removed or introduced.
Urban political ecology (UPE) has provided an alternative dimension to Shanghai. Beyond a shallow perspective of what Shanghai is – a rising financial hub; a metropolitan haven – I have suggested that the urbanisation process has created highly uneven landscapes, brought new tensions and conflicts, and produced contradictions in the city. At the same time, it has also empowered her citizens and introduced new voices to the city. Urbanization is an ongoing process. It will be interesting to continue monitoring this city, as undoubtedly, urban flows will change as Shanghai develops. For now, goodbye Shanghai.
Kaika, M., 2005. City of Flows: Modernity, Nature, and the City. New York: Routledge.
Swyngedouw, E., 1996. ‘The city as a hybrid: On nature, society and cyborg urbanization’, Capitalism Nature Socialism, vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 65-80. DOI: 10.1080/10455759609358679