China’s Urban Revolution

The Dialectic of the Infrastructural City and Ideological City

Presentation by Tim Oakes at Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen. March 7, 2019.

ABSTRACT: 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 my ongoing research on urban transformation in contemporary China, based on case studies from Shenzhen and Guizhou.

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