Relational Place-Making, Actor-Networks and the Emergence of Tokyo's Sub-Centre Shibuya

Friday, July 18, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Christian DIMMER , RCAST, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, Urban Conservation Systems Unit, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Much has been written about global(ising) Tokyo. While some have identified familiar neoliberal, entrepreneurial forms of governance as response to pressures of global competition, with big corporations playing a major role in urban restructuring, national government cheer-leading and local governments increasingly marginalised (Sorensen 2003, Jacobs 2005, Waley 2007), others have emphasised Tokyo’s rootedness in local policy frameworks and a distinct development state that evade universalistic narratives (Saito 2003, Fujita 2011, Tsukamoto 2011). This paper seeks to contribute to these discourses. While existing studies tended to be macroscopic and quantitative, this research focuses on the making of one major place in Tokyo —the Shibuya Sub-centre— in the longue durée. It traces systematically how contestation and collaboration between different actor-networks over history led to dominating rationalities, legitimising discourses, and established political traditions that informed the ongoing spatial restructuring of this hub of consumption, post-industrial cultural production, symbolical representation; and vice-versa. As places are not inherently local nor fixed at a particular scale, major national and international events, such as the Beijing Olympics 2008, or Tokyo’s Olympic bids in 2009, 2013, as well as developments, such as technological progress, policy innovations, or changing patterns of consumption, are important. The paper, then, seeks to develop a more nuanced understanding of how the socially negotiated, constantly changing and contingent “networked politics of place” (Pierce, Martin, Murphy 2010) are emerging at the intersection of national, metropolitan and local urban politics, the place-making efforts of two powerful railway and retail corporations, diverse community building initiatives, social movements, and everyday users of public space. ANT serves to untangle this “complex weave of competition, struggle, and cooperation within shifting social and physical landscapes” (Harvey 2001); among different actor-networks of many types and scales that only become visible in moments of contestation.