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Gentrifying China’s Urbanisation: Why Culture and Capital aren’t enough

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Teachers College Lecture Theatre 306

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

Australia

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Speaker: Prof. Luigi Tomba, Director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney

Co-hosted with: China Studies Centre

This talk discusses Chinese cases of what in other parts of the world has been described as “gentrification”, the displacement of one class by another in the process of urban renewal.

China’s case clashes with the traditional understanding of the origins of gentrification: a consumption-based or cultural explanation has long been criticised by one arguing for the economic roots of gentrification; explanations that focus on the conscious agency, taste and consumption practices of middle-class gentrifiers face criticism from those highlighting the crucial role of capital in determining gentrification. Invariably and unapologetically, the empirical focus of these debates has been located in cities in Europe or North America. The fundamental challenge that China brings to this discussion is that, while consumption and production do matter to the renewal of Chinese cities, here the state often assumes the role of regulator, capital and gentrifier by determining how transformation happens, guiding the flux of money into renewed neighbourhoods and determining acceptable cultural norms.

Based on fieldwork in different locations in China, this talk will outline how the state plays sometimes contradictory roles in this process, and how China’s gentrification is not an epiphenomenal result of urbanisation but one deeply organic to the state project.


Speaker's Bio:

Professor Luigi Tomba

Director, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney

Before joining the Centre in 2017, Professor Luigi Tomba was at the Australian National University for 15 years, most recently as an Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China the World. His work has always been concerned with cities and urbanisation. His most recent book, The Government Next Door: Neighborhood Politics in Urban (Cornell, 2014), was awarded the Association of Asian Studies 2016 Joseph Levenson Prize for best book on Post-1900 China.

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Teachers College Lecture Theatre 306

The University of Sydney

Camperdown, NSW 2006

Australia

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