Urban China has undergone seismic change in its physical and socioeconomic landscape over the last four decades. Urban life in Mao’s China was simply an extension of the regime’s faith in the superiority of teleological planning, and Chinese cities were given a central role in the socialist industrialization programme. All aspects of urban existence were organized along the imperative of production. Urban architectural landscapes were characterized by buildings of monotonous design and prosaic outlook. The ethos of egalitarianism inherent in Soviet practices and the functionality logic of Le Corbusier’s modernist principles of design determined the allocation of space. Scarcity was permanent, with the rationing system effectively restricting personal consumption to subsistence level, lest excessive personal indulgence misappropriate resources for unproductive purposes and thus decelerate the pace of the industrialization programme. Urban life was in general highly organized, disciplined and mundane, with expression of individuality severely circumscribed by politics and material conditions. Yet most urban dwellers probably felt blessed with their ‘privilege’ of residing in the cities, aware as they were of the deprivation and desperation of the Chinese peasantry. The concomitant operation of centralized control over employment through the work unit system (danwei) and the unified job allocation arrangement, and the effective regulation of personal movement through the residential permit system (hukou), powerfully sustained the impermeability of the rural-urban divide.
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Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson
Edited by John R. Bryson, Lauren Andres and Rachel Mulhall
Kris Bezdecny and Kevin Archer
The past half-century has seen a fragmentation of urban theory, one that is also evidenced in city-spaces. Cities have been labeled post-modern, post-industrial, post-colonial, mega, global, sustainable, creative, neoliberal, gentrified, themed, among a multitude of theoretical framings. All of these framings are descriptive of key dynamics witnessed in some (but not all) cities, but none describe well all those dynamics in any city. This is a problem showcased by current debates in urban theory today, particularly the recent debate between Scott and Storper (2015) in their discussion of the nature of cities, contested by such researchers as Mould (2016) and Roy (2016b), which calls into question whether a shared theoretical understanding of the ‘city’ is even possible. Indeed, this kind of debate has only intensified as urbanization continues its hyper-acceleration on a planetary scale (Brenner, 2014). As of 2009, over half the world’s population lives in a city (UNDESA, 2014). This means that roughly twice as many people are (re)producing their lived spaces in cities than the entire global population in 1900. An estimated one in eight people live in a megacity, or in cities with a population greater than 10 million; nearly half live in cities with a population below 0.5 million (UNDESA, 2016). By 2050, it is anticipated that as many as two-thirds of all people will be living in cities – with modest gains in already urbanized North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe and exploding growth in Asia and Africa – ultimately resulting in as many city-people at mid-century as live on the Earth today (UNDESA, 2009). Not all cities are created equal. Cities are often ranked competitively, based on a variety of criteria: population size, areal size (land consumed), and economic value. There are currently 214 cities ranked as global cities, those deemed most important to facilitating the global economy (Friedmann, 1986; Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999; GaWC, 2016). These are further ranked as alpha (49), beta (81), and gamma (84) cities – further demarcating the disparities between the command-andcontrol centers of global capital (while erasing those cities that are not considered competitive enough to be ranked) (GaWC, 2016). The megacity, by contrast, ranks cities by absolute population size, with 47 cities meeting the megacity definition of a population of 10 million or greater, and roughly 600 more cities having a population of 1 million or greater (UNDESA, 2016). Interestingly, there is overlap between urban definitions, in that cities defined by one definition become more likely (or less likely) to also meet an alternative definition (shown by the 40 out of 47 megacities that are also ranked as global cities).
Michael Hoyler, Christof Parnreiter and Allan Watson
Beginning from a concern with how relational perspectives being developed within economic geography might contribute in important ways to relational understandings of global cities and the world city network, in this introductory chapter we outline a renewed critical agenda for global cities research that attends to issues of agency and practice in the making of global cities. We see the future development of this agenda as having four crucial elements: first, a need to incorporate perspectives on agency and practice from relational economic geography into global cities research; second, a need to specify the practices underlying global city making; third, a need to recognize the diversity of actors involved in global city making; and, finally, a need to account for the role of actors and practices not only in the making but also in the un-making of global cities.
In 1843, the British colonial government in Hong Kong designated the northern coast of Hong Kong Island as the City of Victoria. Hindered by natural resource shortages and a poor natural environment, the government had to make use of new construction techniques and infrastructure to solve daily life problems, which included housing, transport facilities, water supply, law and order and public hygiene. The city was managed with two completely differently strategies. The Central District was mainly modelled on what was practised in the West. Commercial activities and trade were conducted in a systematic manner, and the enactment and strict enforcement of laws were key to the implementation of policies. However, the densely populated area of Sheung Wan, located in the western part of the city and inhabited by the Chinese community, was blighted by poor housing and hygiene conditions as well as high crime rates.
Anssi Paasi, John Harrison and Martin Jones
Region and territory have been major keywords of geographical thinking, methodology and research practice since the institutionalization of geography as an academic discipline at the end of the nineteenth century. But what is a region? How are they constructed? How do regions relate to territory? Are regions and territories still relevant in today’s modern world characterized by all kinds of flows and networks? How are regions and territories affected and shaped by social forces? What does it mean to study the geographies of regions and territories? What does the future hold for these spatial categories? These are just some of the key questions, which have not only shaped the long intellectual history of studying regions and territories, they are as relevant today as they have ever been. In this chapter we chart the increased utility of the region and territory in different social, political and cultural realms. We trace the evolving geographies of regions and territories through five distinct chronological phases – traditional regional geographies, regional science, new regional geography, new regionalism and new regional worlds – before revealing the dynamics underpinning a regional resurgence in globalization. In the final part, we contend that contemporary geographies of regions and territories are marked by distinct regional worlds, diverse regional worlds, and decentred regional futures. Finally, by taking stock of the current state of debates on the theory and empirical dimensions of regions and territories, we make the case for a new phase of consolidated regional geographies.