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This book responds to the lack of Asian representation in creative cities literature. It aims to use the creative cities paradigm as part of a wider process involving first, a rapid de-industrialisation in Asia that has left a void for new development models, resulting in a popular uptake of cultural economies in Asian cities; and second, the congruence and conflicts of traditional and modern cultural values leading to a necessary re-interpretation and re-imagination of cities as places for cultural production and cultural consumption. Focusing on the ‘Asian century’, it seeks to recognise and highlight the rapid rise of these cities and how they have stepped up to the challenge of transforming and regenerating themselves. The book aims to re-define what it means to be an Asian creative city and generate more dialogue and new debate around different urban issues.



Chapter 1. Introduction: Re-Imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia

This introduction sets out the key arguments, rationale and approaches undertaken in this book. It identifies the current state of thinking in the Creative Cities discourse and the knowledge gap in processing and registering experiences in Asian cities. It then outlines the four main entry points to the study on this topic: civic society’s resistance to the ideas of top-down approaches and neoliberal development of creative cities in Asia; the re-imagining of creative cities through ‘global’ creative industries; the governance of creative cities and lastly; challenges, opportunities and reflections as experienced by those who make creative cities policies.
Xin Gu, Michael Kho Lim, Justin O’Connor

Conceptualising Creative Cities in Asia


Chapter 2. Creative Cities, Creative Classes and the Global Modern

The creative city, along with creative industries and the creative class, are frequently seen as examples of global policy transfer, where ‘policy technologies’ circulate through a global policy sphere. This chapter starts with a critical account of the literature, focusing especially on the idea of the ‘modern’ underpinning the ‘development’ which is sought from creative cities and the creative economies they are aimed at promoting. The chapter argues this goes beyond global policy elites and their ‘epistemic communities’ and forms part of a much wider ‘imaginary’ of the modern. This imaginary has been able to interpellate a range of, usually younger, creative actors from outside established policy communities, and these have given the idea a dynamic presence well beyond its actual policy traction within government. The chapter tries to reconstruct the creative city as a global imaginary, and ends by suggesting it is in rapid dissolution—or transformation.
Justin O’Connor

Chapter 3. Global City as Place Branding Strategy: The Case of Bonifacio Global City (Philippines)

This chapter revolves around what can be considered as an emerging trend in the Philippines, where the cityhood concept—in this case “global city”—is utilised as a place branding and urban re/development strategy for urban spaces that are not officially designated as cities. This chapter looks at a specific urban space called Bonifacio Global City as a case study in terms of how its naming or place branding strategy has overshadowed the real city that it is part of and argues that its effective city branding application has created an image and public perception that it is indeed a city.
Michael Kho Lim

Chapter 4. Creative Cities, Technological Utopianism and Cultural Retrofitting

This chapter reviews academic literature and policies on ‘creative cities’ with a particular emphasis on the development of digital and media infrastructures in making such cities. It tries to understand what lies behind the evolution of the creative cities discourse in developing Asia. I argue that creative cities approach, focusing on global media corporations and smart technologies, is aiding westernised neoliberal governance rhetoric whilst sidestepping some of the core concern of progressive social reforms lies at the core of ‘creative cities’ proposal when it first appeared in post-industrial cities in the West. The emergence of this new breed of smart cities and intelligent cities in many East Asia nations (China in particular) are increasingly looking beyond culture as promises for a soft landing of a transitional national economy, but the soft lining of a pervasive cybernetic urban environments.
Xin Gu

Chapter 5. Rethinking Creative Cities?: UNESCO, Sustainability, and Making Urban Cultures

Intergovernmental bodies such as the European Union and UNESCO, are active in developing programmes and funding initiatives intended to support urban cultural development. Frequently, these programmes are strongly focused on city imaging, place marketing, and cultural tourism. From a consideration of recent statements and initiatives of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), the chapter suggests that the decision to affiliate the UCCN directly with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is posing a number of challenges for the Network and its member cities, including those of Asia, not least of which is determining what sustainability might mean for a scheme which implicitly encourages inter-city competition and was formed primarily to support and showcase creativity and the cultural economy.
Deborah Stevenson

Resisting Creative Cities


Chapter 6. ‘Crisis of Values’ in Rhetorical Architecture: Creative Cities Discourse and the Urban Landscapes of the Philippines

The Creative Cities discourse was formalized in the Philippines in 2017 as an urban development strategy focused on valorizing the country’s cultural and creative industries. It has since then garnered followers among elite circles for its celebratory promise of GDP contribution and job-creation, but has also drawn critique as a ‘mobilizing discourse’ focused solely on its potential economic advantages. Using the cities of Baguio and Manila as cases, this paper explores how urban poverty and the ‘crisis of values’ question the performativity of the Creative Cities discourse as ‘rhetorical architecture’, as members of the Philippines’ formal and informal cultural sectors negotiate the discourse given the urban landscapes’ material and socio-economic conditions.
Janine Patricia Santos

Chapter 7. From Foreign Community to Creative Town? Creativity and Contestation in Itaewon, Seoul

Hyunjoon’s chapter presents four different creative led gentrifications in the Itaewon area in Seoul, South Korea. The different genealogies of gentrification remind us of different historical-cultural factors as well as economic drivers in the development of creative districts. Hyunjoon challenges the ‘creative class’ as a unified concept along class lines. He observes that the varied alignment of economic and cultural interests within the creative class in South Korea could generate very different outcomes for creative led urban regeneration.
Hyunjoon Shin

Chapter 8. Whose Cultural Memory? Disruptive Tactics by the Creative Collectives in George Town, Malaysia

This chapter examines everyday lived experiences of individuals and groups from various creative collectives in George Town, Malaysia. The process of these articulations is explored through their everyday dwelling in this city, especially in responding to the so-called official narrative of creative city within heritage context. This chapter aims to understand how the everyday tactics of creative collectives disrupt, or counteract, official narratives and top down creative branding of George Town as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The three analytical areas of which this alternative narrative is constructed are disrupting memories, politics of exclusion-inclusion, and formation of organic space. All these are articulated in their identities as artists, craft persons, and creative collectives organically formed from below.
Zaki Habibi

Chapter 9. A Humble Creative City: Tainan City as a Case Study of Culture-led and Community-supported Transformation of a Historical City

This chapter draws on a case study situated in the southwest of Taiwan, Tainan City. The case study demonstrates the intrinsic role of local culture plays in transforming a historical city into one flourishing with creativity. It also introduces a vital role that local communities and residents play in supporting the production of creative practices. This, in turn, stimulates development of cultural and creative industries of the city. Overall, this chapter argues for an ‘embedded approach’ to creative cities rather than translating or emulating models from elsewhere.
Jiun-Yi Wu

Creative Cities and Creative Industries


Chapter 10. From Rubble to the Korean Wave Hub: The Making of the New Digital Media City in Seoul

Digital Media City (DMC) is an ambitious urban development project on a previous waste disposal site of Seoul. While it had been promoted as the world’s first high-tech complex in the early 2000s, it has now developed into the hub of the Korean Wave, concentrating South Korea’s key media and entertainment industries. This chapter explains how the rise of the Korean Wave and the government’s political and economic aspirations shaped the development of DMC. In particular, we focus on how the Korean Wave, which began as an intangible cultural product, has been translated into tangible urban formation of a planned creative cluster. Although DMC managed to cluster cultural-creative industries, we highlight that intrinsic values of culture are important to further support its creative urban environment.
Jun-Min Song, Yu-Min Joo

Chapter 11. The Role of an Urban Festival: Case Study of the Pingyao International Film Festival

This study takes the example of the International Film Festival initiated by a famous director Jia Zhangke in the small city Pingyao, known for its cultural heritage and creativity, to explore the building of creative city images. This study first explores the place and spatial features of the festival in order to understand the changing perception of city space. Instead of regarding the film festival as being solely instrumental in terms of bringing economic benefit for the city, this article sets out to understand how the organisers, festival-goers and the local residents variously experience the festival, and consequently, contribute to the creation of a unique identity for Pingyao, aside from its image as an ancient city.
Jian Xiao, Lin Jin

Chapter 12. ‘Behind the Scenes’ of Mumbai’s Bollywood

This chapter investigates the scaffolding on which Bollywood, India’s most prominent and global film industry functions. Bollywood’s historical roots continue to have an impact not only on the form and content of its films, but also its financing models, production and distribution structures. Bollywood’s case deters all existing understanding of strategies in nurturing cultural industries in cities by provoking ‘what can creative cities policy do for an already successful local film industry?’ This chapter interrogates to what extent have cultural and creative city policies impacted the growth of Bollywood. I argue that given the historical struggle by Bollywood practitioners to gain cultural and commercial legitimacy, the industry is able to survive due to benign negligence from both the state and national government.
Anubha Sarkar

Chapter 13. Cool Japan, Creative Industries, and Diversity

This paper critically considers the operation and objective of Japan’s ‘creative industry’ policy and suggests how to redesign it to align it with recent attention to cultural diversity. But the paper’s scope goes beyond business and extends to defining ‘creativity’ as a means to enhance civic dialogue, sympathy, and inclusion, to imagine a better society. The ‘creative industry’ can include independent and non-profit cultural projects that promote diversity by involving artists, museums, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, public service corporations, local communities, volunteers, and researchers. Such a redesign is compatible with the creative industry policy’s aim to advance social inclusion and democratisation by promoting grassroots creativity.
Koichi Iwabuchi

Governing Creative Cities


Chapter 14. Creative Seoul: A Lesson for Asian Creative Cities

Seoul is the urban locus of a remarkable pop cultural phenomenon, the Korean Wave. Seoul's participation in the global creative city competition results in the paradoxical exclusion of the concerns and participation of its citizens. Korean Wave-centric initiatives are focused at either attracting more tourists and/or providing marketing opportunities for those within the industry. This Seoul case study illustrates a more nuanced analysis of the creative city reality (as a center of international creative business) and governance, one that questions the creative city paradigm as a whole. It advances the discussion of creative cities from ahistorical one that centers the European and American experiences. Seoul therefore questions the paradigm for creative city policymaking in the Non-West.
Kim-Marie Spence

Chapter 15. Re-imaging the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as a Cluster of Creative Cities

This chapter discusses the opportunities and challenges of the Guangdong-Hong Kong- Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) development as one of the largest contemporary iterations of creative clusters. Complementary to the Belt and Road initiative, the Greater Bay Area is an ideal testing ground towards greater conglomerations of cities and countries across the continents. Riding on the organizational theory on ‘isomorphism,’ this chapter highlights how the GBA developments managed to demonstrate both ‘institutional’ and ‘competition’ isomorphism. The GBA development elucidates the shifts of creative city clusters narrative, under the digital era, from the competitive advantages model in which cities seek to complement each other to the winner takes-all model that the non-integrated becomes increasingly marginalized.
Desmond Cheuk Kuen Hui, Charmaine Cheung Man Hui, Patrick Kin Wai Mok, Jason Ka Hei Wong, Ruijie Du

Chapter 16. Creative City Policy in Second-Tier Cities: The case of Chiang Mai, Thailand

This paper on Chiang Mai in Thailand points out two key issues in the governance of creative cities in second-tier cities in developing country contexts. Chuangchai argues that developing countries, trying to catch up with developed countries in the West, are prone to adopt neoliberal values associated with creative cities discourse. The paper showed that despite the efforts of local agencies, the lack of a shared understanding across society of what the cultural and creative industries are and what values they bring to local people can only lead to chaos, a waste of resources, and social exclusivity. This case study reminds us how easy it is for cities with an existing strong local creative industry to lose its vision by reverting to a global creative cities discourse.
Phitchakan Chuangchai

Chapter 17. City of Music: Post-Conflict Branding of Ambon City

This case study of the city of Ambon in Indonesia tests the potential for creative cities policy to be implemented in post-conflict developing country context within which economic agendas are secondary to other policy concerns. Caught up in a mix of social, cultural and political conflicts, the place marketing of the city Ambon as UNESCO’s city of music has faced multifaceted challenges including lack of material resources, lack of support from the broad society and lack of a shared understanding of what this new policy agenda means. This empirical study suggests that there are limitations for creative cities policy to be impactful beyond economic proxies in developing country context at least, despite existing theories claiming otherwise.
Nyak Ina Raseuki, Zeffry Alkatiri, Sonya Indriati Sondakh

Critical Reflections on Creative Cities Policy Making in Asia


Chapter 18. Creative Cities and Sustainable Development: A Framework

Creative cities can be accelerators of a creative economy, if these cities understand how to maximise the potential of a creative city designation as a strategic policy and organising device for sustainable development. This chapter presents a framework for how to align a creative city designation with local economic development planning. The chapter is a self-reflection based on working with policy makers around the world developing strategy, especially in sustainable economic development with cultural and creative industries. It discusses the increasing contributions of China to the 2005 UNESCO Convention, particularly the UNESCO creative cities program.
Helene George

Chapter 19. Creative Bandung: Interview with Tita Larasati

Larasati’s reflection is based on her work as chair of Bandung’s Creative Cities Forum (BCCF), an independent organisation in charge of promoting Bandung as member of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Her case study challenges assumptions of developing countries’ inability to engage civil society in the development of cultural policy and creative cities. Bandung’s success owes to the local activists and NGOs. Their ability to translate global policy agenda (such as UCCN’s sustainable development agenda) to the local context is arguably more effective than policy transfer via western intermediaries.
Tita Larasati, Xin Gu

Chapter 20. UNESCO and Mongolian Cultural Policy: Interview with Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren

Transitioning from a state-owned economy to a market economy, Mongolia’s national cultural policy is dealing with many challenges whilst trying to align with UNESCO’s 2005 Convention. In this interview with Jigjidsuren, the lack of funding, political will and technical knowledge in the making of a national cultural policy by the Mongolia government have been marked as key weaknesses. This chapter shows that the very meaning of culture derived from the old socialist model continues to shape contemporary cultural development in developing Asia.
Bodibaatar Jigjidsuren, Xin Gu

Chapter 21. Creative Cities in Cambodia: An Impossible Idea? Interview with Milena Dragićević Šešić

In this reflection on Cambodian as a post-genocide society within which most of the collective cultural memories have been erased, Šešić asks us to revisit the fundamental question of what is culture and cultural development in this context. In Cambodia, culture is not about infrastructures nor industries. It is the revival of collective memory, a way of life. This chapter suggests that the public-civic partnership model is ideally placed to advance the national cultural policy agendas. However, lack of recognition of the cultural profession internally and cultural imperialism externally have resulted in a fragmented cultural identity and a broken cultural sector.
Milena Dragićević Šešić, Justin O’Connor


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