Pudong Skyline and Globalization

Shanghai skyline

Patrick at Ape Rifle is working on his dissertation, and the topic relates to Pudong’s skyline and globalization. The focus is pretty abstract. Here’s a quote:

> In my dissertation, I’m going to explore how much the lived reality/built form of Lu Jia Zui actually conforms to its commonly imagined ‘global’ skyline. Much discussion of globalization in the relevant literature talks as if there are some intangible forces floating around the world, homogenizing cities and transforming cultures. However, what is not so often discussed is that the whole idea of ‘globalization’ is nothing but a theoretical abstraction; it can hardly come knock at your door anymore than it can build a skyscraper. ‘Globalization’ , on the ground, is nothing more than the built form produced by belief in it. The production of ‘global’ spaces thus has little to do with abstract forces, and a lot to do with real possibilites/constraints.

As for specifics…

> In this dissertation, I want to use Lu Jia Zui to critique the notion that ‘globalization’ somehow produces homogenous landscapes in ‘global’ cities, especially when dealing with financial districts. As an image, perhaps, Lu Jia Zui is similar to New York or Canary Wharf here in London, but in reality it is a place that defies simplistic description as abstract ‘global landscape’ and ends up being strangely Chinese.

This sort of discussion is not exactly my cup of tea, but I know that more than a few China watching philosopher-types read this blog, and many of them even have intimate knowledge of Shanghai. If that’s you, please read the original entry and give Patrick some input.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. hihi…will u study in ECNU soon? O_OActually I am now a student here…It’s amazing that ur chinese is so so great:)

  2. Hey John, thanks!!!

  3. Patrick,

    Hey, no problem. I hope it helps.

  4. Da Xiangchang Says: July 9, 2005 at 5:47 am


    Seems like a good idea, but the language should be seriously cut. It’s often verbose and pretentious. One example: “The real, experienced Lu Jia Zui, I will argue, represents the messy, incomplete, localized nature of ‘global’ developments once they are removed from the theoretical realm and experienced in the reality where they are forcibly constructed” really means “The real Lu Jia Zui is messier than the one envisioned in theory.” And: “While some towers are definitely stereotypical of the ‘global finance’ paradigm (I’m thinking of the new Citigroup glass box I saw last time around) , a decent number seem to involved national, rather than international, offices” really means “Like the Citigroup glass box, a lot of these offices are typically Western-styled buildings but mostly house Chinese offices.”
    Don’t confuse denseness of language with depth of analysis.

  5. Da Xiangchang Says: July 9, 2005 at 6:20 am

    Crap, I overwrote myself! The last could easily be “Like the Citigroup glass box, many of these Western-styled buildings actually house Chinese offices.” There we go.

  6. Da Xiangchang,

    Thanks for the comments. Do keep in mind, though, that what you read isn’t so much an official abstract of my dissertation as it is a blog post I wrote in ten minutes. I think I’m allowed a little useless verbiage. 🙂

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