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2021 UAlbany Confucius Institute Virtual Speaker Series

Chinese Urban History and the Concept of the City


Speaker: Prof. Kristin Stapleton
Department of History, State University of New York at Buffalo

Friday, March 19, 2021, 12:00 pm via Zoom
Events are free and open to the public.
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Abstract: Although settlements that fit common definitions of “city” emerged at least four thousand years ago in areas that are now called China, the concept as generally understood in Euro-American social theory does not resonate very well with ideas at the core of imperial Chinese statecraft, which stressed the integration of territory across larger geographic scales. In China, an obsession with the city as key to social progress is a feature of the early twentieth century. This talk explores the rise of city-oriented visions of Chinese future in the late-Qing and republican eras, attacks on such visions after 1949, and questions that arise from more recent events. Is the apparent end of the “one country two systems” era in regard to Hong Kong, for example, evidence for the resilience of the older conception of cities embedded in the imperial statecraft tradition?

Dr. Kristin Stapleton is Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and was the founding director of UB’s Confucius Institute. A native of Michigan, she studied at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, National Taiwan University, and Sichuan University. She serves on the editorial boards of the journals Twentieth-Century China and Education About Asia. Her research interests include Chinese and comparative urban administration, the history of Chinese family life, and humor in history. She is the author of Civilizing Chengdu: Chinese Urban Reform, 1895-1937 (Harvard Asia Center 2000) and Fact in Fiction: 1920s China and Ba Jin’s Family (Stanford 2016). Her current research concerns conceptions of cities and urban reform in modern Asia. She is a fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and an avid tennis player.

Remittances and Cross-Space Consumption poster


COVID-19, Anti-China Rhetoric, and Anti-Asian Prejudice


Prof. Yao Lu
Department of Sociology, Columbia University

Friday, April 23, 2021, 12:00 pm via Zoom
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Abstract: Mounting concerns and reports in the media suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated prejudice and discrimination against racial/ethnic minorities, especially Asians. Existing research is largely based on self-reported incidents or convenience samples. We investigate the extent to which COVID-19 has fueled prejudice and discrimination against multiple racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States by collecting a nationally-representative survey with embedded experiments in August 2020. Results show that the rising anti-Asian hostility portrayed in popular media are not isolated incidents, but are signs of amplified racism against East Asians in the wake of COVID-19. Also, COVID-19 fueled discrimination has spilled over to other Asian and non-Asian ethnic groups, suggesting a general phenomenon of xenophobia.

Dr. Yao Lu is an Associate Professor of Sociology and faculty affiliate of the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC), the Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI), and the China Center for Social Policy. Her research lies at the intersection of inequality, demography, and politics. Her current work examines the influence of demographic forces on political processes; the sources of inequality by gender, race/ethnicity, and nativity in high-skilled labor markets; the impact of migration/immigration on economic and social inequality in sending and receiving societies; and racial/ethnic attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19, Anti-China Rhetoric, Anti-Asian Prejudice Flyer

Paying for Urbanization: Land Finance and Impacts


Speaker: Prof. Weiping Wu
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Friday, May 7, 2021, 12:00 pm via Zoom
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Abstract: Behind China’s impressive urban growth and urbanization lies an ever evolving local finance structure. At the center is land: land leasing provides both current revenue and collateral for the future revenue streams. In the face of increasing disparity between municipal fiscal incomes and expenditure responsibilities, land leasing is critical for offsetting the gap. This so-called land finance has paid for massive infrastructure development in particular. It is also central to the production of the contemporary urbanscape: spatial forms and footprints of new urban development. This paper will discuss a confluence of factors underlying land finance and its impact on the physical expansion of cities.

Dr. Weiping Wu is a Professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Director of the M.S. Urban Planning program at Columbia University in New York City. She also is on the faculty of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and Columbia Population Research Center. Her research and teaching have focused 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 specific expertise in issues of migration, housing, and infrastructure of Chinese cities. Among her publications are books The SAGE Handbook on Contemporary China (2018), The Chinese City (2020 and 2012), Local Dynamics in a Globalizing World (2000), Pioneering Economic Reform in China’s Special Economic Zones (1999), and The Dynamics of Urban Growth in Three Chinese Cities (1997).

Paying for Urbanization: Land Finance and Impacts poster

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