Public Space Beyond the West: Practices of Publicness and the Socio-spatial Entanglement



In this chapter, I would like to present a review of the recently booming literature on public spaces in non-Western contexts to shed light on the complexities of social life in public space. Both the political and civic ideals associated with public spaces undergird the analyses in this body of literature, but authors which focus on the non-Western contexts seem to adopt more fluid and flexible perspectives in situating these normative ideals into grounded spatial practices. The reason for developing a separate overview of this literature is that so far studies on the non-Western contexts have shown a richness and flexibility in analytical perspectives which is more often unseen in the mainstream literature focusing mostly on Anglo-American cities. As I have mentioned in Chap.  2, theoretical advancement in human geography and cognate disciplines, however, has cautioned against conceptualising public space merely in terms of normativised civic and political ideals. Practices of public space, as Madden (2010) argues, invoke diverse and context-specific conceptions of publicness that are “assembled and built into the landscape” (p. 187). While certain (in fact most) practices centred on public space do not fully live up to the democratic visions of unfettered participation and expression, they nonetheless act as fundamentally constitutive forces in the formation of relations, meanings and identities.

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

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