Category Archives: Books

Sustainable development in China, social and environmental challenges for the 21st century

asino doroFerro, N. (Ed.). (2014). Sviluppo sostenibile e Cina, le sfide sociali e ambientali del XXI secolo. Rome: L’Asino d’oro edizioni.

In this collective book published in Italian, authors question the concept and implementation of sustainable development in China.

A first part looks at the growing awareness of sustainable needs in the Chinese sociey. Then, several chapters are dedicated to the challenges posed by economic growth and urbanisation, including food safety.

The last part studies the possible role of entreprises in answering sustainable development needs in China.

Book excerpt (in Italian) avaiable here

Sebastien Goulard

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)

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City Versus Countryside in Mao’s China: Negotiating the Divide

 

Jeremy Brown (2012). City Versus Countryside in Mao’s China: 
Negotiating the Divide. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107424548.

The gap between those living in the city and those in the countryside remains one of China’s most intractable problems. As this powerful work of grassroots history argues, the origins of China’s rural-urban divide can be traced back to the Mao Zedong era. While Mao pledged to remove the gap between the city worker and the peasant, his revolutionary policies misfired and ended up provoking still greater discrepancies between town and country, usually to the disadvantage of villagers. Through archival sources, personal diaries, untapped government dossiers, and interviews with people from cities and villages in northern China, the book recounts their personal experiences, showing how they retaliated against the daily restrictions imposed on their activities while traversing between the city and the countryside. Vivid and harrowing accounts of forced and illicit migration, the staggering inequity of the Great Leap Famine, and political exile and deportation during the Cultural Revolution reveal how Chinese people fought back against policies that pitted city dwellers against villagers.

For more information about this book: http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/east-asian-history/city-versus-countryside-in-maos-china-negotiating-divide?format=PB?format=PB

Link to book review by Yixin Chen (2013) at The China Quarterly, Volume 214, June 2013 pp 479-480: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=8944098

Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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Shanghai new towns

Martin Minost, « Harry den Hartog (ed), Shanghai new towns: searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis, », China Perspectives [Online], URL : http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/6497 1.

Shanghai new towns, edited by the Dutch architect Harry den Hartog, is interesting on two counts. To begin with, the 2010 book is the first – apart from individual articles – in English (it is bilingual, with Chinese text) to analytically deal with the Western-imitating architecture proliferating on the Chinese mainland since the early 2000s. Second, the book brings together articles by academics and experts all drawn from the domain of architecture and town planning.

However, the issue tackled is not that of architectural imports in China. What interests the authors is that of new towns, especially those built within Shanghai municipality. Analysing this urban object, the authors have tried to give an account of China’s current urbanisation, highlighting characteristics such as the context of state control during their construction, legacies from the past and their present influence, the working style of Chinese town planners, economic and urban planning ideologies, as well as the intricacies of the decision-making and planning processes. The book has both a theoretical aspect as well as practical and pedagogic ambition: minutely observed new towns are elevated to the rank of case studies; and the information the authors draw from the construction process should help Western architects and town planners to learn how to work with their Chinese counterparts, on what basis, using which theories and ideologies, and thus how to cooperate with them.

The book contains 11 articles, four of them written by den Hartog, grouped in four parts separated by mostly photographic dossiers including two by professional photographers. This multiplicity of contributors and forms of analysis, both written and visual, lends to the study a rich source of information, crucial for anyone interested, within the field of urban studies, in the initial process of urbanisation, projects, plans, decisions, and the start of construction. The trans-disciplinary studies thus seek to bring exhaustive knowledge of the subject, but the final product is an uneven work due to the differences between contributions.

Read the full text

  1. Martin Minost is a contractual doctoral candidate in social anthropology and ethnology at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences/EHESS, Paris, affiliated with the Research Centre for Modern and Contemporary China []

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Urban Innovation and Upgrading in China Shanty Towns

Ni, Pengfei, Oyeyinka Banji  and Chen Fei. (2015) Urban Innovation and Upgrading in China Shanty Towns : Changing the Rules of Development. Springer. XIII-204 p. ISBN: 978-3-662-43904-3 (Print) 978-3-662-43905-0 (Online)

By using field survey and World Bank investment project evaluation method, this book investigates the experience of slum rebuilding in Liaoning province, China. It figures out that the experience of Liaoning province is relatively successful and can be of great significance for developing countries and regions. The issue of slums is a huge challenge in the process of global urbanization. The population living in slums is 0.8 billion worldwide and the number is still growing. International organizations (e.g., the World Bank) and relevant countries have been working on the rebuilding of slums but only a few succeeded. In recent years, since some scholars believe that government should play dominant role in slums rebuilding, Liaoning province has developed a systematical model in slums rebuilding from 2005. This model emphasizes the guidance of government, market functions, and society involvement. With the application of the new model, Liaoning province has improved 2.11 million people’s living conditions from 2005 to 2010. By introducing the conditions, history, rebuilding process, and rebuilding methods of Liaoning slums, this book provides new information and data for slum rebuilding decision makers and researchers.

 

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Wives, husbands, and lovers. Marriage and sexuality in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Urban China

Deborah S. Davis and Sara L. Friedman (eds.), 2014, Wives, husbands, and lovers. Marriage and sexuality in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Urban China, Stanford University Press. 340 p.

Digital edition also available:
Google Play

What is the state of intimate romantic relationships and marriage in urban China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan? Since the 1980’s, the character of intimate life in these urban settings has changed dramatically. While many speculate about the 21st century as Asia’s century, this book turns to the more intimate territory of sexuality and marriage—and observes the unprecedented changes in the law and popular expectations for romantic bonds and the creation of new families.

Wives, Husbands, and Lovers examines how sexual relationships and marriage are perceived and practiced under new developments within each urban location, including the establishment of no fault divorce laws, lower rates of childbearing within marriage, and the increased tolerance for non-marital and non-heterosexual intimate relationships. The authors also chronicle what happens when states remove themselves from direct involvement in some features of marriage but not others. Tracing how the marital “rules of the game” have changed substantially across the region, this book challenges long-standing assumptions that marriage is the universally preferred status for all men and women, that extramarital sexuality is incompatible with marriage, or that marriage necessarily unites a man and a woman. This book illustrates the wide range of potential futures for marriage, sexuality, and family across these societies.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Holly Ming’s book on Chinese migrant children’s education

 

MingBookEarlier this year, Holly H. Ming (senior researcher at the Youth Foundation, Hong Kong) published an interesting book on migrant children’s education in China.
This book is actually adapted from her PhD dissertation that she prepared at the Harvard Kennedy School.
This book is structured in four parts. Each of them starts with a migrant’s story and educational aspiration. The author has chosen to adopt an empathic tone; it is clear she cares about these people and their issues. It would be misguided to think that her approach is not academic enough. Actually, Holly Ming’s demonstration is backed with strong references, and she conducted numerous interviews to prepare this book.
She first introduces readers to the status of migrants and their children in cities, and then in a second part, described migrant children’s quest for identity. Most migrant children do not remember their early life in their mother province, but still need to find their own place in their host city.
In a third part, the author studies the career decisions of migrant students and the obstacles they face in pursuing their professional ambitions.
According to her findings, some progress has been made toward the integration of migrant children in public schools (although migrant schools – private schools for migrants delivering low quality courses – still exist in several cities). Several host municipalities reduced paperwork and so more migrant children can attend these schools. But the persistence of the hukou system still prevents many of them from taking the senior high school entry examination. Most migrant children have to choose between taking this exam in their home province, where the syllabus is different from the one followed in their host cities, or leaving school and searching for low-wage jobs, repeating their parents’ fate.
She ultimately presents several policies that could help second-generation migrants to get the education they deserve.
After reading this book, written with heart, we can argue that China does not properly nurture talent. This second generation of migrants faces too many obstacles to succeed. Without proper policies, they will suffer from the same social exclusion their parents experienced.
These children and their families show an incredible thirst for education; they know education is the key to social advancement. More funds and programmes need to be allocated to migrant children to reduce social inequalities and insure a real meritocracy where second-generation migrants and fuerdai (富二代) (the second generation of the upper class) will receive the same education and compete for high social status.

Sebastien Goulard

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)

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Shanghai by Françoise Ged

ged-shanghai

Ged, F. (2014). Shanghai. L’ordinaire et l’extraordinaire (Shanghai. The ordinary and the extraordinary). Paris: Buchet-Chastel.1

Shanghai is the mythical city par excellence. Able to renew itself cyclically, to continually rebuild, we could believe it locked in an absolute present, removed from its history, recent or ancient, without memory.

But what is true of the early 2000s is not necessarily so today. A leading city, a “laboratory” city, Shanghai has undergone some major upheavals. With large-scale constructions finished, the city turns to other sites and reclaims its history as it reclaims its territory. Society is primarily involved in these new adventures, which herald the face of China in years to come. Throughout this journey from the 1980s to the present day, Françoise Ged guides us through this city where the ordinary and the extraordinary exist side by side. Yang Hui Bahai’s photographs punctuate her narrative like guiding lights, signs of a disappearing era, to be replaced by a time not yet realised.2

Next week will have a post with more information on the Chinese photographer Bahai.

  1. Françoise Ged is in charge of the Observatoire de l’architecture de la Chine contemporaine at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine. []
  2. Translated from the back cover of this book. []

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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European and Asian sustainable towns

Gaborit

Pascaline Gaborit (ed.) (2014). European and Asian sustainable towns, new towns and satellite cities in their metropolises. Bruxelles: Peter Lang.

In the face of growing needs and problems around urbanization, the sustainable development of cities does not lie only in technology, research and innovation. Sustainable local development also results from a combination of different elements related to the development of social cohesion, the local economy, the environment and culture; also, crucially, it depends on the autonomy of local authorities and the adoption of the most appropriate system of governance. In addition, the urgent need to create better and more liveable cities is now inextricably linked with the integration of environmental principles, in order to prevent the waste of resources and mitigate climate change by restricting CO2 emissions. Within this framework, new strategies have been implemented for the development of ‘New Towns’ or satellite cities.

This publication gathers together contributions from different experts involved in the EAST (Euro Asia Sustainable Towns) project. The contributors originate from India, China, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States and France, and come from a variety of different backgrounds, including academic researchers, urban planners, architects, political scientists and practitioners.

This book can be ordered through Peter Lang’s website.

Sebastien Goulard

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)

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Aspects of Urbanization in China: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou

418533_coverAspects of Urbanization in China: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou by Bracken can be found at the OAPEN Library, an online resource for freely accessible academic books, mainly in the area of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Bracken, G. (2012). Aspects of Urbanization in China: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Abstract

China’s rise is one of the transformative events of our time. Aspects of Urbanization in China: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou examines some of the aspects of China’s massive wave of urbanization – the largest the world has ever seen. The various papers in the book, written by academics from different disciplines,represent ongoing research and exploration and give a useful snapshot in a rapidly developing discourse. Their point of departure is the city – Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou – where the downside of China’s miraculous economic growth is most painfully apparent. And it is concern for the citizens of these cities that unifies the papers in a book whose authors seek to understand what life is like for the people who call them home.

OAPEN Library also provides a list of alternative platforms to acquire the book. For more information, click here.

Aurélia Martin

Chargée de communications et des médias pour l’UMR Chine Corée Japon (CNRS)

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Villages in the City

Stefan Ai (ed.), 2014,Villages in the City: A Guide to South China’s Informaltlements 華南城中村指南

 Contributing editors: Paul Chu Hoi Shan, Claudia Juhre, Ivan Valin, Casey Wang

Description and Author

Hong Kong University Press, 216 pp. 300 colour illus.
Paperback ISBN 978-988-8208-23-4

Stefan Al  is an associate professor of urban design at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the editor of Factory Towns of South China: An Illustrated Guidebook.

Countless Chinese villages have been engulfed by modern cities. They no longer consist of picturesque farms and fengshui groves, but of high-rise buildings so close to each other that they create dark claustrophobic alleys — jammed with dripping air-conditioners, hanging clothes, caged balconies and bundles of buzzing electric wires, and crowned with a small strip of daylight, known as “thin line sky.” At times, buildings stand so close to each other they are dubbed “kissing buildings” or “handshake houses” — you can literally reach out from one building and shake hands with your neighbor.

Although it is easy to see these villages as slums, a closer look reveals that they provide an important, affordable, and well-located entry point for migrants into the city. They also offer a vital mixed-use, spatially diverse and pedestrian alternative to the prevailing car-oriented modernist-planning paradigm in China. Yet most of these villages are on the brink of destruction, affecting the homes of millions of people and threatening the eradication of a unique urban fabric.

Villages in the City argues for the value of urban villages as places. To reveal their qualities, a series of drawings and photographs uncover the immense concentration of social life in the dense structures, and provide a peek into residents’ homes and daily lives. Essays by a number of experts offer a deeper understanding of the topic, and help imagine how reinstating the focus on the village could lead to a richer, more variegated pathway of urbanization.

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Nanhui city

A Journey to Nanhui, China’s Ghost City on the Coast
By Wade Shepard, Blog Vagabond Journey, Published on June 20, 2014

The first thing that many visitors to Shanghai will see is a ghost city. If you look down out of the window when flying into Shanghai’s Pudong airport from the south, right at the point where Hangzhou Bay and makes landfall, you will see a nose-like protrusion of land sticking out into the water. On the tip of this nose is a strange assemblage of concentric circles radiating out from a perfectly circular lake. If you hear your fellow air passenger’s exclaiming, “What is that place!?!” their reaction is appropriate: no other city in the world looks like Nanhui. As you curiously peer down you will not see many people, cars, or signs of life. This is not because the people are hiding, it’s because they’re not there yet. Nanhui is another of China’s full scale new cities that are being built from scratch, ever expanding the frontiers of urbanization.

(…) This circular city, which formally went by the names Luchao Harbor City and Lingang, is a $5.6 billion satellite development 60 km from the core of Shanghai in the far southeastern corner of Pudong. It was built for one reason: to serve as an urban center to support the nearby Yangshan Free Trade Zone, which includes the Yangshan Deep Water Port and the Lingang Industrial Zone. The economic sparks caused by these catalysts are expected to eventually bring 800,000 people into Nanhui by 2020, turning it into a commercial and tourism epicenter on an otherwise uneventful coastline. (…)

Read the full text

Watch the video to get a better look at this place

 

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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Neighbourhood governance in urban China

Yip, Ngai-Ming (ed.) (2014). Neighbourhood governance in urban China. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar. XI-213 p. ISBN: 978-1-78100-023-6

Neighbourhood Governance In Urban ChinaAs the economy and society of China has become more diversified, so have its urban neighbourhoods. The last decade has witnessed a surge in collective action by homeowners in China against the infringement of their rights. Research on neighbourhood governance is sparse and limited, so this book fills a vital gap in the literature and understanding.

The authors reveal how the Chinese authorities have themselves become increasingly sensitive to the potential risk of collective actions becoming destabilizing forces in urban arenas. This thought-provoking book looks at both the theoretical and empirical underpinning of the self-governance of homeowners and their collective action, as well as control mechanisms in neighbourhood governance. The book offers a window through which contending issues, such as changing state–society relations, rights-based social movements and the emergence of civil society, can be further explored.

Neighbourhood governance is a multifaceted concept that cuts across academic disciplines and intersects an array of policy areas. Therefore this book will find a wide audience amongst public and social policy academics, particularly those with an interest in urban studies, governance and Asian cities, as well as politics.

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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New book: Transforming Chinese cities

Wang, Mark Y., Kee Pookong, and Jia Gao (ed.) (2014). Transforming Chinese cities. Oxon : Routledge. XXV-271 p. (Routledge contemporary China series). ISBN : 978-0-415-63665-0.

The urbanisation of China over the last three decades has been a hugely significant development, both for China’s reform process and for the world more generally. This book presents recent research findings on China’s continuing urban transformation. Subjects covered include the decline of the rural-urban divide, the spatial restructuring of Chinese urban centres and urban infrastructure, migrant workers, new housing and new communities, and “green” responses to urban environmental problems. The book is particularly valuable in that it includes much new work by scholars based inside China.

See more at Routledge.com

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Sustainable automobility: understanding the car as a natural system

Nieuwenhuis, Paul (2014). Sustainable automobility:  understanding the car as a natural system. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar. 208 p. ISBN: 978 1 78347 267 3 (hardback) and 978 1 78347 268 0 (ebook).

783472673If we are part of nature, then so is everything we make. This  book explores this notion using the example of the car, how it is made and used and especially how we relate to it, with a view to creating a more sustainable automobility.

We have been trying to make cars cleaner and more efficient, but has this really made them more sustainable? This book argues, within the context of sustainable consumption and production, that we should see the car as a natural system, subject to natural laws and processes. As part of this new perspective we need to change our attitude to cars, building more durable relationships and co-evolving with them. Revolutionary, perhaps; but if we get it right, this approach will allow us to enjoy motoring – albeit in modified form – into the future. The book draws on a range of disciplines, including industrial ecology, engineering, philosophy, anthropology, consumer psychology and object-oriented ontology, as well as providing industry examples to support its innovative case.

Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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The revival of the funeral industry in Shanghai: a model for China

photo-invisible

Aveline-Dubach, N. (2012). The Revival of the funeral industry in Shanghai: a model for China. In N. Aveline-Dubach (Ed.). Invisible population—The place of the dead in East Asian megacities (pp.74-97). Langham: Lexington Books.

A cosmopolitan megacity that stands apart from China’s political and cultural centres, Shanghai was formerly the heart of a highly dynamic funeral industry. Following a fifty-year interlude under the Maoist regime, the city is now seeking to revive this pioneering tradition. Although death is no more visible here than in China’s other major cities, for the past twenty or so years Shanghai has endeavoured to compromise with market forces in order to create a new funeral culture reflecting the ambitions of a new Chinese modernity and destined to serve as a model for the country. More than any other, the funeral industry that has emerged in Shanghai bears the traces of China’s turbulent evolution over the past two centuries. This chapter will trace the main stages of the industry’s history by placing it within the context of the major political, economic and social challenges of each period.

Article available on-line at HAL.

Sebastien Goulard

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)

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