Notes about ‘Inverting the Cultural Map: Peripheral Geographies of Beijing’s Creative Production’

Posted: May 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: creative industries | Tags: | No Comments »

Be different from North America and Europe, creative clusters of Beijing were always at the edge of the city. These were many factors for this phenomenon. Firstly, experimental artists gathered spontaneously at the outer regions. Secondly, the unstable political situation further made the artists migrate obscure places. Last but not least, the government made an important role. It made comprehensive plans for the distribution of creative clusters in the urban periphery.

There were two modes of ex-urban sprawl. One was village intensification. Local peasants did not have the proprietary rights of land. They just developed it and rented the houses to migrate workers through informal ways. These migrants usually worked in the labor intensive creative industries, such as serving vacation village, constructing art villages and so on. The other was expansive new development areas. These included artist’s villages, art gallery and art districts, software parks, leisure spaces, conference hotels, spas and theme parks.

It should consider of the opportunities and challenges from four perspectives. First of all, the creative industries were scattered to the out regions of the city. At beginning, artists’ choices of renting the edge of the city were because of the low rent. However, with the development of houses and studios at the edge, the phenomenon of luxury housing here were more and more obvious. And the creative production was even controlled by governments and real-estate developers. Fortunately, the cultural diversities in Beijing’s periphery can lead to new understanding and developmental modes for people to periphery. Secondly, Beijing government tolerated migrant workers to reside in the villages which are developed illegally because migrant workers contribute more to the urban economy. Thirdly, international and Chinese labor force congregated in the urban periphery. The collisions of diverse experiences, skills and talents of international and Chinese labor force provided a huge potential for innovation. Fourthly, the combination of the powerful central government and the weak regulatory framework offered opportunities for urban development. The strong government guided the developmental direction and ensured the implement of policies while the weak regulatory framework created chance s for migrant workers to empower themselves, achieving equal rights.


Blackwell, Adrian (2008) ‘Inverting the Cultural Map: Peripheral Geographies of Beijing’s Creative Production’, Urban China 33: 48-51.