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Ethni-cities: urbanization and ethnic space in China

Ethni-cities: urbanization and ethnic space in China
1 Devonshire Place, Room 108N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Sep 8th, 10:00 am End: Sep 8th, 12:00 pm
Interest Categories: Geography & Planning (FAS), East Asian Studies (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Timothy Oakes, University of Colorado Boulder

Ethni–cities: urbanization and ethnic space in China

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China’s explosive rate of urbanization has attracted attention for its unprecedented scale and speed, and for its explicit framing as a project of socio-economic development. China is trying to urbanize its way to prosperity. But urbanization has also been framed by planners and other government officials as a project of social engineering, in which new urban landscapes are thought to improve the quality of the people living in them. This talk will explore how this idea has been implemented and experienced in China’s ethnic minority regions. Although, as one scholar has noted, ‘cities in China are not meant to be ethnic,’ some urban spaces are becoming ‘ethnicized,’ while rural ethnic areas are becoming ‘urbanized’ through tourism and infrastructure development. What is the relationship between ethnic identity and urban space in China today? How has urbanization been framed as a way of re-shaping ethnic identity, and how has ethnic culture in turn influenced urbanization in minority regions? This talk will explore these questions by pursuing two related avenues of inquiry. First, I will discuss the urbanization of ethnic tourism in Guizhou: that is, the extension of an urban aesthetic to the practice and development of tourism in Guizhou’s ethnic countryside. Second, I will present recent research on the ‘ethnicization’ of cities in Guizhou Province: the deliberate transformation of urban space into ethnically-themed space.


Martina Mimica


Timothy Oakes
Professor, Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder


Department of Geography & Planning

East Asia Seminar Series, Asian Institute

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