This book examines the use and culture of digital media in urban Chinese cities. By examining examples and data from Chinese and global social media platforms, the book argues that digital media facilitate Chinese people’s sense of local self and local identity. In doing so, the book moves on from the polarised debate regarding the democratic function of Chinese Internet to instead examine the connection between digital technologies and the country’s history, culture and eventually, people and their everyday lives. It offers a rich analysis of a Chinese city in the digital age, and challenges the nationalistic approach to study China’s digital media culture.
Introduction Place, locality and digital media in China / 1. Minjian Society: identity, culture and digital media / 2. Two tales of one city: across the state and commoners / 3. Bodily practice: Digitizing the Guangzhou body / 4. Geographical knowledge: reproducing Guangzhou / 5. Opinion leadership: Re-configuring the city-nation dialectic / Conclusion: From Guangzhou to China: rethinking digital media research of China / Appendix: Notes on methods / References
Wilfred Yang Wang is an Independent Researcher.
Guangzhou is an epitome of the digitalizing cultures and urban cities in China. In Digital Media in Urban China, Wilfred Wang adeptly illustrates strategies of cultural resistance, conflicting public discourses in social media, and political dynamics of citizenship and identity in digital media with the case of Guangzhou.
Pushing back against political and ideological efforts to erase ‘the local’, Wilfred Yang Wang skilfully traces the southern Chinese city Guangzhou in vast online networks. Digital Media in Urban China provides a rich account of cross-cultural processes of placemaking, taking shape in the interplay between state, people and market, and involving Cantonese diasporic communities around the world.
This book is a compelling addition to the literature on digital China. It is particularly welcome because it leverages the connection between digital and physical worlds. Through the concept of digital placemaking, Wang conveys a nuanced understanding of the interaction between place-based cultural practices and identity construction through digital media, with compelling insights from extensive fieldwork in Guangzhou.
Wilfred Wang’s book on the digital placemaking of Guangzhou is a timely contribution to digital media research through the lens of place (locality), culture, and communication technologies. Its digital ethnographic approach, framing analysis, and intersectionality framework offer fresh insights on the tension between displacement and implacement, or de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation, in people’s experience with remediated texts and social realities in the digital era.
A rich and lively study on place-making practices by citizens in Guangzhou on and through digital media. Wang fluidly presents the connections and contentions between the constructed city in the developmentalist discourse and the lived city of local folks. The emphasis on the historical continuity in studying place and digital media is particularly welcome. An important book on digital urbanism.