Synopses & Reviews
Currently there are more than 125 Chinese cities with a population exceeding one million. The unprecedented urban growth in China presents a crucial development for studies on globalization and urban transformation. This concise and engaging book examines the past trajectories, present conditions, and future prospects of Chinese urbanization, by investigating five key themes - governance, migration, landscape, inequality, and cultural economy.
Based on a comprehensive evaluation of the literature and original research materials, Ren offers a critical account of the Chinese urban condition after the first decade of the twenty-first century. She argues that the urban-rural dichotomy that was artificially constructed under socialism is no longer a meaningful lens for analyses and that Chinese cities have become strategic sites for reassembling citizenship rights for both urban residents and rural migrants.
The book is essential reading for students and scholars of urban and development studies with a focus on China, and all interested in understanding the relationship between state, capitalism, and urbanization in the global context.
Winner of the Choice award for Outstanding Academic Title
"A must-read book for those who want a critical and multifaceted examination of Chinese urbanization. The author is clearly at home in China and shares insights we rarely read about."
Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, author of Cities in a World Economy 2012
"The world is fascinated by the fundamental changes in China's cities and how they link to larger projects of national development and globalization. Few scholars have examined these questions with such a broad-ranging focus as Xuefei Ren does here, offering new insight into growing inequality, how shifting landscapes are transforming lives, and the implications of these dynamics for citizen protest, human rights, and new cultural practices."
Diane E. Davis, Harvard University
"By far the most comprehensive account of the changing Chinese urban society. Ren's critical reading of the current urban China research begins to reveal a new horizon of urban studies in a non-Western context – sweeping through specific configurations of hukou and 'villages in the city' to more general changes in social and spatial inequalities."
Fulong Wu, University College London
China has built hundreds of new cities and urban districts over the past 30 years, and hundreds more are set to be built by 2030. Between now and then, 250 million more rural Chinese will move into cities, bringing the country's urban population up over one billion, as the central government kicks its urbanization initiative into overdrive. The traditional social structures are at an advanced stage of being torn apart, and a rootless, semi-displaced, consumption centric "globalized" culture is rapidly taking its place.
As China redraws its map with new cities it isn't just manufacturing new urban areas but are engineering new culture and way of life. Ghost Cities of China is a dialogue driven, on-location search for an understanding of China's new cities and the reasons why many are currently under populated.
Over the next couple of decades, it is estimated that 250 million Chinese citizens will move from rural areas into cities, pushing the countrys urban population over one billion. China has built hundreds of new cities and urban districts over the past thirty years, and hundreds more are set to be built by 2030 as the central government kicks its urbanization initiative into overdrive. As China redraws its map with new cities, it isn't just creating new urban areas, but also engineering a new culture and way of life. Yet, many of these new cities, such as the infamous Kangbashi and Yujiapu, stand nearly empty, construction having ground to a halt due to the loss of investors and colossal debt.
In Ghost Cities of China, Wade Shepard examines this phenomenon up close. He posits that the shedding of traditional social structures in the country is at an advanced stage, and a rootless, consumption-centric globalized culture is rapidly taking its place. Incorporating interviews and on-the-ground investigation, Ghost Cities of China examines Chinas under-populated modern cities and the countrys overly ambitious building program.
About the Author
Xuefei Ren is assistant professor of sociology and global urban studies at Michigan State University and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Table of Contents
1. The New Map of China
2. Clearing the Land
3. Of New Cities and Ghost Cities
4. When Construction Ends the Building Begins
5. Megacities Inside of Megacities
6. A New City, A New Identity
7. No Going Back
8. Powering the New China
9. Staying Afloat
10. What Ghost Cities Become