The Street As Urban Borderland: Micro-Geographies of Inequality and Co-Existence in Manchester and Shanghai

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 2:45 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Deljana IOSSIFOVA , School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
The paper examines the micro-geographies of spatially divided but adjacently located and coexisting social groups (defined by place of origin, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or various other criteria) in two very different cities. It is rooted in six years of fieldwork in Shanghai, China, and several months of research-based teaching (Architecture) in Manchester, UK. The study builds on ethnographic work (namely long-term observation, visual methods and in-depth interviews) in two divided neighbourhoods, where the street acts both as a border, separating difference, and as a space of conviviality, bringing together and merging. In this way, the case study streets are established as spaces where the various barriers between the different are often patiently and persistently undone by those who live them in their everyday, just as symbolically as they are sometimes erected by the powerful. Furthermore, the paper looks at how the formal and informal production, appropriation, transformation, use and management of street space in the case study areas of Manchester and Shanghai are linked and contribute to the formation and maintenance of multiple and hybrid social identities among members of distinct groups. The focus lies on the exploration of the street as a space which makes various types of inequality explicit, a space which is temporally, culturally, economically or, simply, physically in-between, and can thus be regarded as a type of urban borderland.