Politics and Aesthetics of Creativity

City, Culture and Space in East Asia

Edited by Heung Wah Wong, Lu Pan,

and Karin Ling-fung Chau

This volume of original essays critically examines the intriguing interplays among major actors and venues of creative practices in contemporary East Asian cities. Within many exiting literatures on the idea of creative cities and creative clusters, much attention has been focused on its relation to society on a macro level: creative cities are understood through the lens of creative economy, government policy, creative labor market analysis and management, adaptive urban re-development in the postindustrial cities, and strategic urban planning. Moreover, most of them are interested in Western cases and the ideological, cultural, economic, and social backdrops that can hardly be taken for granted for other societies in the non-Western countries. This book offers a corrective to these trends. Its chapters closely investigate specifically East Asian manifestations of the political and aesthetic decisions made, or not made, in the construction and representation of creative cities, with Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Shanghai coming in for special consideration.

About the Editors

Heung Wah Wong is associate professor teaching creative arts and Japanese studies at the University of Hong Kong. 

Lu Pan is a lecturer at the University of Hong Kong and HKU SPACE Community College.

Karin Ling-fung Chau received her MPhil in European studies from the University of Hong Kong.


Non Arkaraprasertkul, Global Postdoctoral Fellow, New York University Shanghai

Elaine W. Ho, Artist and Documentarian

Shu-Mei Huang, Ph.D., Instructor, Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University

Yi-Chieh Lin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Communications, National Chengchi University

Lu Pan, Ph.D., Visiting Fellow, Berlin Technical University and Harvard Yenching Institute

Trude Renwick, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley

Ying Zhou, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

Tobias Zuser, Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, Hong Kong Baptist University


This collection of articles was inspired by an international conference titled Politics of Creative Industries: Critical Reflections” organized by the Global Creative Industries Programme at the University of Hong Kong in March 2013. We had interesting conversations and debates on the relationship among politics, aesthetics and creativity at the conference. One of the participants and, later, editors of the book, Lu Pan, went ahead to collect and organize papers related to the themes of this edited volume: the dynamics between the production, use and interpretation of space and the social transformation of the East Asian region, and the role of politics and state in shaping that dynamic...

All of the chapters in the volume are concerned about space and architecture in the urban setting of East Asia... In particular, the findings of Chapters 2, 6, 7 and 8 lead us to ponder the impact and effectiveness of State planning on the development of creative industries and the process of cultural revitalization. As shown in these chapters, the governments of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong all play an active role in ‘curating’ and planning, if not standardizing, the development of ‘creative clusters’ (Chapters 2, 7, 8) and the art industry (Chapter 6) in the region...

On the other hand, alternative and grassroot models of creative industries spring up along with and in response to the official paradigm...

All these studies remind us that we have to contextualize our understanding of the architecture, space and urban setting of each respective society. To understand the politics of space and study its relationship with social transformation is a very demanding, yet rewarding task. This volume contributes to the field of study by providing lucid and specific case studies in East Asia and challenging dominant official discourses and practices. The studies here also never fail to remind us that we have to pay close attention to the complex dynamics between local context and global influence in order to formulate a more accurate interpretation of the spatial world. We hope that the volume will inspire scholars, cultural professionals and the public to take a new perspective to perceive and interpret spatial visuals in our own society vis-a-vis others.