UCRN Speaker Series


Hong Kong Public and Squatter Housing: Geopolitics and informality, 1963-1985

14/12/2023 (8:30 AM EDT / 9:30 PM BJT)) -- Zoom (detail information click the flyer)

Informality, particularly squatting and street vending, was pervasive in Hong Kong until the 1980s. After four decades of failing to end new squatting after the Second World War, and with their numbers climbing to over 750,000 in 1982, the colonial Hong Kong government finally succeeded in preventing further expansion after 1984. Informality, and the tactics used to control it, had a huge impact on the social and economic landscape of the colony. Hong Kong’s public housing system, one of the largest and most successful in the world, began as squatter resettlement. By the 1970s, fostering legitimacy for the colonial government required a broader public housing system, but expansion required squatter clearance, and created imbalances in the housing system. Adoption of a new administrative procedure, making squatter housing dependent on inclusion in a new squatter occupancy survey, made allocat- ing more housing to non-squatters possible as well as ending new squatting. Based on extensive archival research and my own ethnographic research in the 1980s, I consider various explanations of how and why new squatting was finally ended, and the consequences for the housing system

Dr. Alan Smart is is a Professor Emeritus in the Dept. of Anthropology and Archaeology at University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada. PhD in Social Anthropology from University of Toronto (1986). Research interests include political economy, housing, urban anthropology, anthropology of law, borders, zoonot- ic diseases, smart cities and posthumanism. Field research conducted in Hong Kong, China and Canada. Author of Making Room: Squatter Clearance in Hong Kong, The Shek Kip Mei Myth: Squatters, Fires, and Colonial Rule, Posthumanism: Anthropological Perspectives (co-author Josephine Smart), Hong Kong Public and Squatter Housing: Informality and Geopolitics, 1963-1985 (with Charles Chi-keung Fong, in press) and numerous book chapters and articles.
Profile : https://antharky.ucalgary.ca/profiles/alan-smart.



Collaborative Planning in China, by Yanliu Lin

11/30/2023 (8:00 AM EDT/9:00 PM Beijing/2:00 PM Amsterdam) -- Zoom (detail information click the flyer)

Collaborative planning has recently emerged in urban renewal and environmental management in China to address increasing complexity, diversity, and pluralism driven by economic development. However, the egalitarian principles that ground collaborative planning theory call into question its validity in China. The theory emphasizes consensus building in which various stakeholders come together for face-to-face dialogue to address controversial issues. It rests on three assumptions: democratic institutions, neutral power, and communicative rationality. These assumptions, which are often debated in the Western context, should clearly be questioned in the Chinese context. Social media and online participatory platforms provide a new public sphere enabling new forms of communication and power relations. Collaborative planning practices are also shaped by the Chinese institutional contexts such as the political system, policies and culture as well as local contexts such as socioeconomic and environmental factors. Some are characterized by the strong power of government and weak civic engagement, while others reflect the complex role of civil society and planners. This leads to the heterogeneous nature of collaborative planning practices in the Chinese context.

Dr. Yanliu Lin 
Associate Professor of Spatial Planning and Digitalization Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Utrecht University Profile : https://www.uu.nl/staff/YLin.



New Frontiers of Rural-Urban Transformation in China, by Karita Kan

10/26/2023 (16:00-17:30 HKT) -- In-person and Zoom

Since the 2000s, the study of peri-urban transformation in China has been dominated by the non-agrarian conversions of rural land for industrial, infrastructure, and real estate development. In recent years, however, the Chinese government’s drive to safeguard food security through agricultural modernization has created new frontiers of development at the edges of Chinese cities. As the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting geopolitical uncertainties reignited fears about whether China can feed itself, the leadership has redoubled its efforts in ensuring grain self-sufficiency by reclaiming farmland, building agricultural parks, and cultivating “new subjects” of agriculture in the form of dragonhead enterprises. Drawing on case studies in Guangdong province, this presentation examines the processes of agrarian change unfolding at the periphery of cities and unravels how they articulate with the politics of land and urbanization. In doing so it broadens the horizon in understanding the variety of actors involved in peri-urban transformation and creates new dialogue between agrarian and urban studies.

Dr. Karita Kan is an associate professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She received her PhD in Politics from the University of Oxford. Her broad research interests lie in the political economy and social dynamics of China’s post-socialist transition in the rural-urban context. She has published on the politics of land and property, urbanization and changing state-society relations in grassroots governance, and China’s role in global development. Her work can be found in journals including Geoforum, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Journal of Rural Studies, Journal of Agrarian Change, China Journal, China Quarterly, and Journal of Contemporary China.



Theorising with urban China: Methodological and tactical experiments for a more global urban studies, by Calvin Chung

9/21/2023 (16:00-17:30 HKT) -- In-person and On-line

Venue: Chamber, Faculty of Social Sciences, 11/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Despite global academic interest, the field of urban China continues to be dominated by exceptionalist theorising. Given that the unique properties of Chinese urbanisation present rich cases for an engaged pluralism in urban studies, it is fruitful to theorise with urban China based on two methodological grounds: ‘thinking cities through elsewhere’ and conjunctural analysis. This opens space for mid-level theorisation, which has the potential to contribute to the revision of existing theoretical frameworks or create new starting points for analysis and conceptualisation. One way to do so is to stress-test the explanatory veracity of multiple ‘already-given’ Northern concepts in a single urban China case, with a dual focus on exposing each concept’s blind spots and exploring whether and how these theories can come together to overcome their respective limits. Bio:
Dr. Calvin Chung is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. An urban geography by training, he is interested in the material and discursive politics of urban environmental governance, especially as it intersects with spatial planning. He has actively published in international journals, most recently including Dialogues in Human Geography, Progress in Human Geography, The Professional Geographer and Urban Geography. He is an associate editor of Asian Geographer.



The Development Model of Urban China: A Perspective from Land Property Rights by Jieming Zhu

5/15/2023 (9:30 am BJT) -- In-person and On-line

Prof. Jieming Zhu, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University (Can link to see his lastest researches --https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jieming-Zhu)

1954 Huasan Road, conference room No. 234, Shanhai Jiaotong University

Tencent meeting:  ID: 179151138, password: 774534
Bilibili live streamhttps://live.bilibili.com/9672392



Impacts of China's New Urbanization Plan: The Shanghai Case by John R. Logan and Honghuan Gu

5/4/2023 (9 am EDT/9 pm BJT)-- Zoom Meeting

There have been substantial shifts in China's national urban policy in the last decade, currently termed the New Urbanization Plan.   The NUP seeks to focus on the quality rather than the pace of urbanization.  It would limit population growth of megacities like Shanghai and also change development patterns within those cities.   Our previous research on Shanghai in the 2000-2010 decade revealed a familiar pattern of rapid growth fueled by migration, expansion of development of the suburbs, and growing residential segregation across neighborhoods especially between locals and migrants.  With 2020 data, we now see a dramatic and unexpected shift in some of these trends.  A major question is whether to attribute the new pattern to a change in state policy, and if so, to understand how the NUP was so forcefully and quickly embraced at the local level.

John Logan is Professor of Sociology at Brown University.  He has been involved in urban China research since his first visit to Nankai University in 1986.  He has published a number of studies related to housing, segregation, and family relationships in collaboration with colleagues from China, beginning with his first project where he partnered with Dr. Yanjie Bian, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences.  He has also encouraged new research on urban issues through the Urban China Research network, which is based at the University at Albany. 
Honghuan Gu is a postdoctoral researcher at East China Normal University. She has published papers on residential segregation, social vulnerability, and spatial inequality, and is working on urban social space and neighborhood change.



China Urbanizing: Impacts and Transitions by Weiping Wu

4/6/2023 (9 am EDT/9 pm BJT)-- Zoom Meeting

  China’s urbanization has evolved amid the interconnected forces of historical legacies, contemporary state interventions, and human and ecological conditions. Embracing this notion, a new collection of work in the book China Urbanizing: Impacts and Transitions questions the conventional imagination centering cities in the West. This presentation highlights key conclusions and theoretical touchstones that have emerged. In addition to outlining new perspectives on the impacts of China’s urbanization, Professor Wu will point to the transitions underway as well as the gravity of the progress, particularly in the context of demographic shifts and climate change.

Weiping Wu is Professor of Urban Planning and Director of the Urban Planning programs in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Trained in architecture and urban planning, Professor Wu has focused her research and teaching on understanding urban dynamics in developing countries in general and China in particular. She is an internationally acclaimed urban and planning scholar working on global urbanization with a specific expertise in issues of migration, housing, and infrastructure of Chinese cities. Currently, she is the chair of Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), which accredits university programs in North America leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in urban and regional planning. She was the President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) in 2017-2019, a consortium of university-based programs offering credentials in urban and regional planning. In addition to China Urbanizing: Impacts and Transitions, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in September 2022, other recent books include The Chinese City (2020, second edition) and The Sage Handbook on Contemporary China (2018).