A Relational Analysis of Place Names and Gentrification in Southwest China

Authors: Michela Bonato (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy)
Speakers: Michela Bonato
Strand: Linguistic Landscapes
Session Type: General Session


How are Chongqing upscale residential neighborhoods politicized? To answer this question this research adopts a conjunctural perspective based on the idea of “problem space”, that is where the conjuncture makes manifest its problematics, ambiguities and contestations, leading – as Grossberg (2019) points out – to threat values and the possibility of commensuration. The analytical tool is applied to investigate the process of Chongqing land renewal in the last two decades in relation to the changing political scenario in Chinese local and central government. More precisely, if the process of gentrification is constructed as a way to respond to the Chinese economic, administrative and ideological readjustment of the current leadership, it might be possible to track down the temporalities of the changing spatialities at the local level as reflected on the different political narratives of the period. Therefore, the research investigates the gated communities zoning and naming processes as they evoke different phases of Chongqing political and social struggle, highlighting how the urban agency modifies its space and functionalities according to the central directives. At the same time, the power geometries operating behind the construction of upscale residential areas could turn into a source of contradiction and make visible a site of contestation.

Keywords: Conjuncture, Struggle temporalities, Naming, Zoning, Gated communities, Chongqing, Southwest china