Anna Greenspan (2014), Shanghai Future. Modernity Remade, London, Hurst.
China is in the midst of the fastest and most intense process of urbanisation the world has ever known, and Shanghai — its biggest, richest and most cosmopolitan city — is positioned for acceleration into the twenty-first century.
Yet, in its embrace of a hopeful — even exultant — futurism, Shanghai recalls the older and much criticised project of imagining, planning and building the modern metropolis. Today, among Westerners, at least, the very idea of the futuristic city — with its multilayered skyways, domestic robots and flying cars — seems doomed to the realm of nostalgia, the sadly comic promise of a future that failed to materialise.
Shanghai Future maps the city of tomorrow as it resurfaces in a new time and place. It searches for the contours of an unknown and unfamiliar futurism in the city’s street markets as well as in its skyscrapers. For though it recalls the modernity of an earlier age, Shanghai’s current re-emergence is only superficially based on mimicry. Rather, in seeking to fulfill its ambitions, the giant metropolis is reinventing the very idea of the future itself. As it modernises, Shanghai is necessarily recreating what it is to be modern.
Shepard, Wade (2015) . Ghost cities of China : the story of cities without people in the world’s most populated country. Zed Books, 192 p. (Asian Arguments). ISBN : 978-1-7836-0219-3
Over the next couple of decades, it is estimated that 250 million Chinese citizens will move from rural areas into cities, pushing the country’s urban population over one billion. China has built hundreds of new cities and urban districts over the past thirty years, and hundreds more are set to be built by 2030 as the central government kicks its urbanization initiative into overdrive. As China redraws its map with new cities, it isn’t just creating new urban areas, but also engineering a new culture and way of life. Yet, many of these new cities, such as the infamous Kangbashi and Yujiapu, stand nearly empty, construction having ground to a halt due to the loss of investors and colossal debt.
In Ghost Cities of China, Wade Shepard examines this phenomenon up close. He posits that the shedding of traditional social structures in the country is at an advanced stage, and a rootless, consumption-centric globalized culture is rapidly taking its place. Incorporating interviews and on-the-ground investigation, Ghost Cities of China examines China’s under-populated modern cities and the country’s overly ambitious building program.
Tomba, Luigi (2014). The government next door : neighborhood politics in urban China. Ithaca : Cornell university press. 240 p. ISBN : 978-0-8014-5282-6.
Chinese residential communities are places of intense governing and an arena of active political engagement between state and society. In The Government Next Door, Luigi Tomba investigates how the goals of a government consolidated in a distant authority materialize in citizens’ everyday lives. Chinese neighborhoods reveal much about the changing nature of governing practices in the country. Government action is driven by the need to preserve social and political stability, but such priorities must adapt to the progressive privatization of urban residential space and an increasingly complex set of societal forces. Tomba’s vivid ethnographic accounts of neighborhood life and politics in Beijing, Shenyang, and Chengdu depict how such local “translation” of government priorities takes place.
Tomba reveals how different clusters of residential space are governed more or less intensely depending on the residents’ social status; how disgruntled communities with high unemployment are still managed with the pastoral strategies typical of the socialist tradition, while high-income neighbors are allowed greater autonomy in exchange for a greater concern for social order. Conflicts are contained by the gated structures of the neighborhoods to prevent systemic challenges to the government, and middle-class lifestyles have become exemplars of a new, responsible form of citizenship. At times of conflict and in daily interactions, the penetration of the state discourse about social stability becomes clear.
I always wondered how China had avoided the slums that seem to dominate the large cities of other developing countries. When I started my research for this book, I heard that China was concerned about “Latin Americanization” — meaning megacities, inequality and instability. At the same time, the government was abolishing agricultural taxes that had been collected in some form for over two and a half millennia. These developments seemed important to understand.
In your book you describe how China escaped the usual social unrest that accompanies preferential policies for cities thanks to its hukou, or household registration, system.
China’s household registration system separates its rural and urban populations. While those born in cities have a local hukou that gives them access to social services, those born in the countryside have a harder time getting access to services when they migrate to cities.
Most poor countries favor cities to promote development and ensure that people living in cities are pro-government. I argue that this kind of “urban bias” might tamp down protests today but also encourages more and more farmers to move to favored cities. These large cities, often full of slums, can explode. Urban protests can quickly overwhelm regimes, even seemingly stable ones like Mubarak’s in Egypt. China’s hukou system is a loophole to this Faustian bargain: favoring urbanites while keeping farmers in the countryside and smaller cities.
Tilt, Bryan (2014). Dams and development in China : the moral economy of water and power. New York : Columbia university press. 280 p. (Contemporary Asia in the World). ISBN: 978-0-2311-7010-9.
China is home to half of the world’s large dams and adds dozens more each year. The benefits are considerable: dams deliver hydropower, provide reliable irrigation water, protect people and farmland against flooding, and produce hydroelectricity in a nation with a seeimingly insatiable appetite for energy. As hydropower responds to a larger share of energy demand, dams may also help to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, welcome news in a country where air and water pollution have become dire and greenhouse gas emissions are the highest in the world.
Yet the advantages of dams come at a high cost for river ecosystems and for the social and economic well-being of local people, who face displacement and farmland loss. This book examines the array of water-management decisions faced by Chinese leaders and their consequences for local communities. Focusing on the southwestern province of Yunnan–a major hub for hydropower development in China–which encompasses one of the world’s most biodiverse temperate ecosystems and one of China’s most ethnically and culturally rich regions, Bryan Tilt takes the reader from the halls of decision-making power in Beijing to Yunnan’s rural villages. In the process, he examines the contrasting values of government agencies, hydropower corporations, NGOs, and local communities and explores how these values are linked to longstanding cultural norms about what is right, proper, and just. He also considers the various strategies these groups use to influence water-resource policy, including advocacy, petitioning, and public protest. Drawing on a decade of research, he offers his insights on whether the world’s most populous nation will adopt greater transparency, increased scientific collaboration, and broader public participation as it continues to grow economically.
Li, Tian (2014). Property rights, land values and urban development : betterment and compensation in China. Edward Elgar, 232 p. ISBN : 978-1-78347-639-8 (hardcover) / 978-1-78347-640-4 (ebook)
This book presents an analysis of betterment and compensation issues under the Land Use Rights (LURs) System in China since 1988. The topic originates from the observation of widening inequity and increasing uncertainty associated with the failure of government to adequately address betterment and compensation issues. An analytical framework of institutions and property rights is employed to examine socio-economic impacts under the LURs system, in particular, the role of the state is analyzed to explore the effects of government intervention in land markets.
Nature of land rent and land value capture
Studying betterment and compensation from a perspective of property rights
Assessing and addressing betterment and compensation: international experiences
Urban land reform and evolution of land market in China
Betterment and compensation schemes under the lurs system
Assessing and addressing betterment and compensation in guangzhou: empirical evidence
Institutional evolution in the land market of Guangzhou
Caprotti, Federico (2014). Eco-cities and the transition to low carbon economies. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan. 136 p. ISBN : 9781137298751 (Hardcover) / 9781137298751 (Ebook EPUB) / 9781137298751 (Ebook PDF).
Eco-cities are increasingly being marketed as solutions to a range of pressing global concerns, such as environmental and climate change, hyper-urbanization, demographic shifts, energy security, and the Peak Oil scenario. In response to these issues, eco-cities are being conceptualized as ‘experimental cities’, new urban areas in which new technologies and ways of organizing urban and economic life can be trialled, and where transition pathways towards low-carbon economies can be tested. The author examines the two most advanced eco-city projects under construction at the time of writing – the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City in China, and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. These are the largest and most notable attempts at building new eco-cities to both face up to the ‘crises’ of the modern world and to use the city as an engine for transition to a low-carbon economy.
“World Bank; Development Research Center of the State Council, the People’s Republic of China. 2014. Urban China : Toward Efficient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Urbanization. Washington, DC: World Bank. URI http://hdl.handle.net/10986/18865
In the last 30 years, China’s record economic growth lifted half a billion people out of poverty, with rapid urbanization providing abundant labor, cheap land, and good infrastructure. While China has avoided some of the common ills of urbanization, strains are showing as inefficient land development leads to urban sprawl and ghost towns, pollution threatens people’s health, and farmland and water resources are becoming scarce. With China’s urban population projected to rise to about one billion – or close to 70 percent of the country’s population – by 2030, China’s leaders are seeking a more coordinated urbanization process. Urban China is a joint research report by a team from the World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council which was established to address the challenges and opportunities of urbanization in China and to help China forge a new model of urbanization. The report takes as its point of departure the conviction that China’s urbanization can become more efficient, inclusive, and sustainable. However, it stresses that achieving this vision will require strong support from both government and the markets for policy reforms in a number of area. The report proposes six main areas for reform: first, amending land management institutions to foster more efficient land use, denser cities, modernized agriculture, and more equitable wealth distribution; second, adjusting the hukou household registration system to increase labor mobility and provide urban migrant workers equal access to a common standard of public services; third, placing urban finances on a more sustainable footing while fostering financial discipline among local governments; fourth, improving urban planning to enhance connectivity and encourage scale and agglomeration economies; fifth, reducing environmental pressures through more efficient resource management; and sixth, improving governance at the local level.
Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World. Book written by Doug Saunders, and published by Knopf Canada (September 21, 2010).
What will be remembered about our century, more than anything except perhaps changes to the climate, is the final shift of human populations from agricultural life to cities, the effects of which are being felt around the world. Arrival City gives us an on-the-ground view of this phenomenon—from Maryland to Shenzhen, from thefavelas of Rio to the shanty towns of Mumbai, from Los Angeles to Nairobi.
Doug Saunders introduces us to the migrants themselves, and with the aid of their stories elucidates their essential part in the economic fabric. He makes clear that the cities and nations that provide citizenship and opportunity to migrants stand to benefit as the migrant class evolves into a middle class, and he explains why those that ignore these people will see increased social unrest, poverty, and religious fundamentalism.
Christine Estève and Jérémy Cheval (2010). Lilongs – Shanghai 里弄 – 上海. Montpellier: Mon Cher Watson.
In Shanghai as elsewhere, the old town fades away while a powerful and modern city emerges. The lilongs, surrounded by skyscrapers, still attest to the humanity and the particular history of the city – they remain the evidence of a bustling environment, with varied typologies, a conservatoire of the Shanghainese lifestyle.
This guide unveils 20 discreet sites of traditional habitat, in a tour of a city caught between two eras.
Written in 3 languages, Chinese, French and English, this guide book looks at 20 lilongs around Shanghai that have stood up to the pressure of Shanghai’s rapid urbanisation. With the help of maps and illustrations, each lilong is clearly located (including GPS coordinates) and described in detail. This guide also includes explanations of what lilongs are and their history, and several passages on Shanghai’s history as well.
Shenggen Fan, S M Ravi Kanbur, Shang-Jin Wei, Xiaobo Zhang (2014). The Oxford companion to the economics of China.(2014), The Oxford Companion to the Economics of China, 656 p., 33 Figures, 8 Tables. Also available as ebook.
Yang, Qingqing (2015). Space modernization and social interaction : a comparative study of living space in Beijing. Berlin ; Heidelberg : Springer. XVII-152 p. ISBN : SBN 978-3-662-44348-4.
This book concerns the Beijing Hutong and changing perceptions of space, of social relations and of self, as processes of urban redevelopment remove Hutong dwellers from their traditional homes to new high-rise apartments. It addresses questions of how space is humanly built and transformed, classified and differentiated, and most importantly how space is perceived and experienced. This study elaborates and expands Lefebvre’s “trialectic” of space on a theoretical level. The ethnography presented is a conversation with Tim Ingold’s argument about “empty space”. This research employs the ethnographic technique of participant-observation to secure a finely textured, detailed and micro-social account of local experience. Then, these micro-social insights are contextualized within macro-social structures of Chinese modernism by speaking to geographical concerns, orientalism and history.
Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE – Nottingham Trent University)