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Lilong: An Urban Legacy Is there a threshold to which Shanghai can resist globalisation?

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Megan White
Queen's University Belfast | UK
Lilong in Shanghainese refers to the historic and culturally unique inner city housing districts scattered throughout the urban fabric of Shanghai - remnants of the colonisation of the city during the 20th Century. Lilong Shíkùmén housing, an urban legacy, has been compromised by the mass urban redevelopment of the city that rendered Shanghai vulnerable to globalisation at an unprecedented scale over the past 20 years. In Kevin Lynch’s Image of the City (1990), he skims over the interdependent relationship between social meaning and the identity of the place; however, it was the distinctive social characteristics and renowned exteriorisation of the street that generated the cultural identity of the Lilong districts and, respectively, the image of the city. As a result, recent actions involving interventions into Shanghai’s urban fabric have exposed that the annihilation of the Lilong is fundamentally responsible for the detrimental loss in Shanghai’s cultural integrity.

This investigation will open the discussion as to whether there is a threshold to which Shanghai can resist the scapes of cultural globalisation, as coined by Appadurai (1995), through the urban heritage regeneration of these historical Lilong districts and will entail the examination of two case studies, Xintiandi and Tianzifang. By analysing the characteristics that define Lilong, one is able to determine the factors that are integral to maintaining the cultural character and integrity of the city’s image for future generations, providing a method to prevent these regeneration schemes from simply becoming a mask to hide the culturally ambiguous projects being stamped across the city.

Megan White

Greg Keeffe
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