Jiehebu urbanism and the translational turn of urban studies
Meeting ID: 925 0214 9362
All are welcome!
Dr. ZHAO Yimin Assistant Professor, Renmin University of China
Dr Yimin Zhao is an Assistant Professor in Urban Planning and Management at Renmin University of China. Trained as a human geographer, his work has been focusing on space and politics in the urban process. After completing his PhD project on Beijing’s green belts and Jiehebu, he is now developing his work along two lines of inquiry, focusing on the infrastructural lives of authoritarianism and the urban mechanisms of Global China respectively. He is an editor of the City journal, and has contributed to City, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, and Urban Geography, among other journals.
The genealogy of Beijing’s green belt is presented in this talk to explore rationales and ethos of planning discourses on the one hand and, on the other, their interconnections with urban politico-economic dynamics in China. As an idea produced in the Western planning canon, the “green belt” was inserted into Beijing’s master plan through a critical conjuncture involving modernity, urban space and the national ethos. In the Maoist era, though, it was mainly occupied by peasants and vegetable fields, a space conceptualised by urban planners as the urban-rural juncture (Chengxiang Jiehebu, 城乡结合部). This Jiehebu area, however, immediately became the new urban frontier in the 1980s when China was en route to a “market society,” attracting the arrival of millions of migrant workers. With a significantly changing demographic pattern and the scarcity in infrastructures and social services, this area was gradually labelled by the local people as being “dirty, messy and disappointing,” defying the city’s vision of building up a “world-class and harmonious metropolis.” The Municipal Government has since 1994 been adopting a series of policy guidelines to transform Jiehebu area in light of their imaginations of being modern and international. Instead of being able to make this area genuinely “green,” however, the local state has established a new frontier of the urban political economy where tremendous land revenues have been collected, partly through the socio-spatial reordering in Jiehebu, yet at the cost of the migrants’ right to the city. Drawing on this story of Jiehebu urbanism, I will also engage with reflections on improper urban vocabularies and introduce a translational turn to foreground dialogues between languages of the urban frontier.