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There are two broad ways in which we can understand how urbanization is happening in China today: one is ideological and the other is infrastructural. One focuses our attention on “the city” as a distinct thing, its own ontological category. The other focuses our attention on the connective tissue that both underlies and links cities or, population agglomerations. Both are powerful drivers of the urbanizing landscape. Together, they generate the contradictory dialectic that defines China’s urban revolution. While the talk is largely theoretical and conceptual, it draws on Professor Timothy Oakes’ ongoing research on urban transformation in contemporary China, based on case studies from Shenzhen and Guizhou.
Timothy Oakes is Professor of Geography and Director of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is the author of Tourism and Modernity in China (1995), as well as numerous edited collections, including Translocal China (2006), Faiths on Display (2010), and Making Cultural Cities in Asia (2016). His work has appeared in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, The Journal of Asian Studies, China Quarterly, Eurasian Geography & Economics, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, and many other journals. He is currently the principle investigator for the project “China Made: Asian Infrastructures and the ‘China Model’ of Development” (https://chinamadeproject.net).