On Monday, 27 April 2015, the 8th Shanghai Social Studies Colloquium (SSSC) took place at the PURE ARCHITECTURE design office in Shanghai.This time SSSC invited Professor QIN Shao, Senior Research Fellow at the East Asia Institute of the National University of Singapore to deliver a presentation entitled: ‘A Researcher’s Note: A Field Walk in Shanghai and into a Blind Spot’.
Focusing on the life stories of local Shanghai residents during the rapid changes since 1949, Qin provided insights into the often overlooked aspects behind the grand political and economic schemes. She encouraged researchers to go beyond the boundaries of disciplines and engage in inter-disciplinary research reflecting the real human life. Speaking of her longitudinal anthropological field research spanning decades, Qin highlighted how memories are flexible. ‘Memory itself is a recreation of time and history’ she posited, arguing that it can be reinterpreted and keeps changing. Hence history is at times shaped and reshaped by changing narratives over the years. Qin’s thought-provoking presentation was succinctly summarised by her quote ‘If you want to learn about something, go write a book.’ that was widely applauded by an audience of more than 50 people.
Following her discussion of fieldwork, Qin continued on the topic of rapid urban development in China stressing that there were a large number of internally displaced people. Uprooted by quickly changing urban landscapes, citizens lose ownership of their city and lack responsibility for their environment. Pointing to a correlation of duration of time spend away and difficult reintegration in the city, Qin advocated for better help for citizens returning to their homes. Taking the Chinese government’s new focalisation on ‘quality of life’ as indicator of performance, Qin suggested rewriting the narrative, helping citizens re-root themselves in their communities.
The discussion was facilitated by Non Arkaraprasertkul, Global Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University, Shanghai and Frank Tsai, Regional Research Manager at Control Risks. Maximilian Rech, Programme Director at ESSCA Shanghai, moderated the event.
The presentation was followed by a lively discussion. Thereafter, the participants continued their exchange and during an informal networking reception with food and drinks.
All papers, presentations and the authors’ profiles of previous SSSCs can be read and downloaded under http://www.shanghai-review.org/sssc/
The SSSC is an ongoing event and takes place approximately every eight weeks. If you are interested in receiving updates or present your own research work, please contact Maximilian Rech at ESSCA Shanghai under firstname.lastname@example.org.