Social scientists are frequently concerned with the “local”, including issues such as subnational elections, local governance, the formation of local identities and communities, or local economic “clusters”. However, the social and spatial boundaries of the “local” are often elusive, and subject to change. This seems particularly true in Japan, where local administrative boundaries were abruptly redrawn in a wave of municipal mergers in the mid-2000s, initiating an ongoing process of local socio-spatial readjustments. Beyond the Japanese case, refining our conception of what constitutes a subnational “locality” – its spatial, social, formal and informal boundaries – produces new questions, reveals different stakeholders, and uncovers the impact of social constellations that otherwise remain invisible.
The two speakers will address political and economic consequences implied by differing delineations of subnational spaces in Japan and China.
Carolyn Cartier, University of Technology, Sydney
Franz Waldenberger, German Institute for Japanese Studies