ARI Working Paper Series
WPS 214 Cyberzomia
Publisher : Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Publication Date : Feb / 2014
Author/Speaker: MAROLT Peter
Keywords : cyberzomia; zomia; urban China; internet; Public City; online-offline

This paper adopts the metaphor of a Southeast Asian Zomia to its Chinese cyber-urban variation, and assesses what we can learn from such a way of seeing. After introducing the reader to Zomia and its Cyber-urban counterpart, I provide a succinct status update on the cat-and-mouse game that is afoot on the Chinese Internet, clarify the terms in the title, and establish their relevance for an everyday urbanity that has long become augmented by its cyberspaces. The paper indicates that shifting the analytical vantage point away from structural emphases on a state vs. civil society dichotomy and toward individual/shared agency and processes of learning better matches the concrete everyday expressions and processes that operate through, and in turn configure everyday urban life. I conclude that, at least in China, remaking the Public City can not happen without comparatively autonomous online spaces, and that these spaces have already become an intrinsic part of urban life in ‘the City’, and are deserving of more rigorous scholarly attention by scholars of the urban as well as the Internet.