Research Projects

From Canton to Guangzhou: Urban Renewal and Spatial Politics in South China and Beyond

(Funded under Hang Seng Bank Golden Jubilee Education Fund for Research, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities & Social Sciences)

Principal Investigator

Zhang Jun, Research Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences
(Remarks: Dr. Zhang Jun left the University’s service from January 20, 2018.)

Total Fund Awarded

HKD 20,000

Project Duration

April 2014 – April 2015

Project Description

The subject of this proposal is metamorphosis of urban space as lived experiences, political discourses, and governing technologies. Specifically, this project aims at an ethnographic study of the vicissitude of old neighborhoods in the city of Guangzhou, China from the early twentieth century to the contemporary.

China has undergone rapid urbanization in the past three decades. Urban population increased from less than 20% in 1979 to more than 50% in 2012 (World Bank). Mass urban infrastructural projects have been constantly under construction, with state-of-the-art buildings, glinting high-rises, and extensive transport networks. Yet, behind the glossy imagery, displacement and forced re-location have been imposed upon many ordinary residents as a result of the complicity between the local government and real estate developers.

How have the urban residents deal with the rapidly changing landscape? How can we interpret urban residents’ perceptions and practices when faced with the imposed state agenda and responding in multiple ways that cannot be reduced either submission or resistance? Furthermore, how can urban reconstruction contribute to our knowledge about the interaction between infrastructure, power and human agency?