Keywords of the Greater Bay Area

Maritime Trade


Nikita Yingqian Cai

The South

On a basic level, the South sits on your right-hand side as you face a rising sun, or it is located on the lower part of the map, opposite to the North. In the context of colonialism, the South can symbolize the uncivilized wilderness, the tropics, primitiveness, nature, tradition, and backwardness. From its inception, this geographic concept with an embedded binary structure has inspired diverse visions of geography and networks of action. The term "Global South," which is related to the idea of the Third World, refers to south-south cooperation and solidarity among developing countries, as well as resistance to capitalist globalization. Due to the relatively free flows of capital and products and the relatively difficult flows of natural resources, technologies, and people, the South is easily consolidated under geo-political or post-colonial labels, or trapped by positionality of being the Other, the periphery, and the victim. Dependency theory, first proposed by Latin American scholars in the late 1960s, stresses that, because relatively backward periphery countries are dependent on advanced core countries, they are often exploited in international trade, which produces corruption and other ills.

Globalization has created counterpoints and spillover effects between the South and the North, creating the South in the geographic north, or the North in the geographic south. The northern centers of modernity in the current world system have experienced or are experiencing southernization. Examples include the southward migration of China's economic and trade centers since the Tang and Song dynasties, the capitalist industrialization that was built on the African slave trade and the plundering of natural resources in the Southern colonies, the southward transfer of China's excess capacity within the One Belt, One Road framework, and the tropicalization of several temperate northern countries due to climate change. Furthermore, the energy-intensive raw materials extraction and infrastructure construction related to developed countries' information industries often take place in less-developed regions in the South. In the context of the intensifying climate crisis, increased focus on the ecological fragility of the Global South has given rise to criticism of and resistance to extractivist. Extractivism is considered a short-sighted development model in which multi-national corporations make huge profits from the large-scale extraction of natural resources from a given area. However, these benefits are seldom shared with local communities and these practices further exacerbate the destruction of ecosystems and the displacement of indigenous people. These geographic visions and processes transcend historical cycles and national boundaries, becoming the foundation of today's epistemological plurality, which prompts us to ask, "What is the South? Whose South is it?"

(Translated by Bridget Noetzel )

About Keywords of the Greater Bay Area

The "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area" is a new construction envisioned from a top-down perspective and territorial integration. It is a blueprint for a future urban development based on efficiency, speed, and mobility. What if we conceive the Greater Bay Area as an experiment, an imaginary experiment? On the one hand, there is the question of 'diversity'. When we talk about smart cities, artificial intelligence, automation, ecological crisis, information security, the future of virtual reality, global trade, etc., where does this view of the future come from, and what determines it? On the other hand, a profound political, spatial, historical, and geographical significance is present in the Greater Bay Area. Is it possible to develop a different imagination based on the history and culture of the "Pearl River Delta-Greater Bay Area;" meaning, to consider a development departing from local knowledge production, negotiating with accelerating technologies, facilitating collaborations between art and other disciplines, and reshaping the vision of institutions of art and technology? By exploring the diversity of technologies, human and non-human ecologies, and reproduction of social relations, might it be possible to reposition the "Greater Bay Area" as a pioneering experiment of southern China's technological and cultural imagination beyond a mere economic zone?

Editors: Jianru Wu, Guo Yun
English editor: Christy Lange