The Influence of Moral Knowledge on Urban Villages in Shenzhen, China

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Moral knowledge, and its spatial articulation, are being ignored in the rapid urban growth that results from globalisation. The need to learn from tradition and integrate urban heritage values into the wider framework of sustainable development and citizen engagement is urgently recommended by UNESCO. This paper explores the concept of moral knowledge (informed by Confucianism) and its influence on the spatial configuration of the urban village Huaide in Shenzhen, China. Chinese moral and aesthetic knowledge was practised and enforced throughout the imperial period via rituals, writing and painting, agriculture and garden design, and city governance. Although globalisation’s dominant Western paradigms are challenging traditional Chinese practices, such traditional knowledge can serve as cultural forces shaping the distinct characteristics of Chinese cities. Using mapping supplemented by fieldwork photographs, we argue that Huaide Village is a relational space embedding social and ecological values guided by traditional Chinese moral knowledge. Amidst the transitional phase of urban redevelopment, the network of the retained clan houses, temples, courtyards and hierarchic streets harbours moral and cultural traditions. The village acts as a resistance to the homogenised urban spaces for a ‘global’ city. This paper adds to the discourse on urban villages by enriching our understanding of their lived spaces while also providing insights for possible future urban renewal strategies that engender better citizen engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventAESOP Congress 2022: Space for Species: Redefining Spatial Justice - Tartu, Estonia
Duration: 25 Jul 202229 Jul 2022


ConferenceAESOP Congress 2022
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Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


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