Mobile Research Laboratory | Beijing, China  [2007]

Coordinators: Ned Rossiter, Bert de Muynck & Mónica Carriço
bei-CI | Mobile Research Laboratory | May-July 2007


Based on preliminary fieldwork in Beijing in 2005 and 2006 and follow-up discussions at the MyCreativity -convention of international creative industries researchers  [held in Amsterdam, 2006], this project – at – adopts the model of a mobile research laboratory as a framework for collaborative research on the creative industries and media education in Beijing.

This project brings international and Chinese academics together with urban research organisations, artists, curators, media producers and policy-makers in order to undertake trans-disciplinary research on Beijing’s creative industries [bei-ci or Trans-CIB]. Through collaborative practices of self-organization, one of the primary aims is to create a ‘counter-mapping’ of creative industries in Beijing. Unlike the usual mapping documents on the creative industries, which are typically derived from compilations of statistics on economic growth in the sector, this project will produce an alternative map of the creative industries in terms of the following vectors of research:

• migrant networks and service labour

• eco-politics of creative waste

• informational geographies vs. creative clusters

• centrality of real-estate speculation for creative economies

• import cultures & export innovations in architecture and urban design

• artist villages and market engineering

Urban China #33, Creative China | guest-edited by Ned Rossiter & MovingCities | 2009


In the past few years China has joined the international rush towards creative industries. While the policy discourse on creative industries in China is similar to that in other countries in East Asia, Australasia and Europe, it would incorrect to assume that China’s engagement with the creative industries is simply a case of derivative behaviour. The special qualities of creative industries in China are not, however, to be found in policy discourse, which tends to reproduce the international hype around spectacular growth rates associated with digital ICTs and the ‘new economy’. For example, the institutional and regulatory environment surrounding the media and cultural industries, advertising, music, and urban development – some of the key sectors of the creative industries in China – does not correspond with the conditions that lead to such boosterism in the case of the UK and US in the late nineties.

With the ascendancy of the creative industries as the preferred policy model for countries around the world seeking to address problems of unemployment and urban regeneration in a post-industrial knowledge economy, there has been a curious omission of the fundamentals and complementarities that constitute networks of knowledge transfer, creativity, intellectual property, etc. Much research in the creative industries is highly speculative, interpretive and economistic, concerned with large scale industry data rather than the network of formal and informal relations that make possible creative production.

Urban China #33, Creative China | guest-edited by Ned Rossiter & MovingCities | 2009

Urban China #33, Creative China | guest-edited by Ned Rossiter & MovingCities | 2009

Method: Immanent Critique

As a collaborative project, the program of research will be jointly developed among participants.

Some key themes and activities to be explored include:

• mapping the distribution of creative industries ‘clusters’ across Beijing as defined by government policy
• map the demographic shifts accompanying the transformation of land zoned as residential, small business or urban fringe into land zoned for creative industries clusters
• map the distribution of emerging and declining artists’ collectives
• conduct interviews, produce podcast radio programs and video documentaries with new and displaced populations (‘locative media’)
• hold workshops with presentations by various participants
• investigate possibilities for ‘counter-designs’ of creative industries business and research in Beijing
• facilitate partnerships between university programs (architecture and design, new media, cultural and media studies, sociology), entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations

Urban China #33, Creative China | guest-edited by Ned Rossiter & MovingCities | 2009

Check out the ORGNETS-project website for a full oversight of this research.

Urban China #33, Creative China | guest-edited by Ned Rossiter & MovingCities | 2009



  • China East Asia Media New Media
    a site dedicated to research on creative industries focusing on Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. China | East Asia | Media | New Media is a researcher’s network. It came into existence during an international conference at QUT in July 2007. The network is initiated and managed by Michael Keane.
  • One World, One Dream: China at the Risk of New Subjectivities
    China’s transformation is becoming the central phenomenon in the emergence of a new, complex and in many ways threatening world society. An essay by Brian Holmes, January 2008.

Urban China #33, Creative China | guest-edited by Ned Rossiter & MovingCities | China, 2009

Future collaboration > Urban China #33

Vitamin creative space - The Shop (image:Jiang Jun) | Beijing, February 2009

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