In recent years, a range of approaches concerning the study of human relationships embedded in built places and environments have been developed. They emerged at the points of intersection between disciplines such as cultural studies, sociology, anthropology and urban studies. By studying human-spatial relations, and how their various constituent parts are interrelated or arranged, these approaches offer new insights and tools for researchers. They enable us to narrate stories of places, map people’s experiences, analyse social patterns and examine power relations in ever more varied and detailed ways.
In our current world, the concept of place is local, yet globalized. It is constructed by external connections among players and institutions. It spans multiple spatial scales and involves global processes that are grounded in the local. On the one hand, the recent history of globalisation has created unprecedented global connections: higher connectivity has brought about more opportunities for individuals to network, and the ever-expanding global ecosystem has brought about faster and more intense connections of places and people. On the other hand, the world is witnessing a process of diminishing interdependence. Globalisation is facing its biggest test under the current global dynamics, including heightened geopolitical tensions, the urgency of environmental problems and, most recently, the supply chain crisis.
Today, we find ourselves at a crossroads. We face the need to break out of existing paradigms in search of new avenues and alternative solutions to questions of human-spatial relationships. Among the questions we need to ask are: How does the current global state of affairs reconfigure our notion of place? How does it give rise to modifications in flows and circulations of people, information and discourses? How does place play a role in challenging, shaping and mediating the patterns of experience? What, in our current times, do space and place mean for the livelihoods of individuals and communities?
In dealing with some of the most important spatio-human challenges of our times, this conference strand centres on how, in periods of uncertainty, places highlight the philosophical significance of spatial realism. It explores social lives, trans-local imaginaries, built spaces, and ways of knowing. In doing so, it aims to offer insights into the critical possibility of re-reading history, subjectivity, culture, political institutions and place.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong offers a wide range of research programmes in different subject areas and encourages all academic staff to undertake consultancy and collaborative projects with industry. CUHK has always adopted a liberal policy on research undertakings that allows breadth and depth. Research activities at CUHK cover dimensions laterally to encompass all subjects that are offered at CUHK, vertically to integrate staff research with teaching, and longitudinally to range from upstream research to midstream development.
Research is seen as a source of knowledge that advances human thinking and powers innovation. CUHK’s ability to serve society is predicated on excellence in research. The university has attracted numerous talented researchers to conduct world-class research. Today, CUHK researchers lead eleven out of a total of 28 “Areas of Excellence” (AoEs) that are preferentially funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) of the Hong Kong Government. CUHK researchers and their collaborators have contributed to and benefited from the growing economy of China. The university houses five State Key Laboratories that are entrusted by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China to conduct national strategic research.
Isaac Leung, PhD. Assistant Professor, Cultural Management