China and Inner Asia
Much of what scholars know about Chinese urbanization is based on research conducted along the coasts, where the earliest and most visible transformations of the post-1978 reform era took place. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, inland regions have played a growing role in China’s urbanization, introducing a range of socioeconomic, spatial, and political dynamics that are not yet well understood. This roundtable builds on recent scholarly interest in the distinctive qualities of urbanization in the interior to explore what these processes mean for our understanding of China's development more generally, including questions such as: In what ways are the challenges of urban development in inland regions distinctive? How have interior regions adapted strategies of urban development from coastal provinces? How have legacies of economic dualism, dependency, and out-migration affected development in the interior? How does urbanization intersect with the ethnic and religious diversity of China’s west? How have national development policies such as the Great Western Development Campaign and the Belt and Road Initiative affected patterns of urbanization in the interior? How is urbanization in different regions of China interconnected, and to what extent does the when of urbanization matter as much as the where?
Chaired by Jean Oi, this interdisciplinary panel brings together the authors of four recent or forthcoming monographs that engage processes of urbanization in central and western China: Julia Chuang's Beneath the China Boom follows the trajectories of rural migrant workers and the transformation of their home villages; Piper Gaubatz' From Mass Rallies to Mass Transit explores the transformation of Socialist urban public spaces, especially large public squares; Kyle Jaros' China’s Urban Champions examines the role provincial and national policies play in spatially uneven urban growth; and Nick R. Smith's The End of the Village investigates the experimental implementation of national urban and rural development programs. The introductions to the monographs will be pre-circulated online for attendees to read in advance, and the discussants will read the four monographs in full. During the roundtable, discussants will engage with each other’s research, guided by the chair and the questions posed by the audience.