Assembling the Chinese City: Production of Place and the Articulation of New Urban Spaces in Wuhan, China
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Studies of China's urban development largely rely on a handful of metanarratives, appealing for their concision, but failing to account for the spatial specificities of the Chinese city. These narratives are founded on structural capitalist explanations of place-making including neoliberal urbanism, market transition, new institutional economics, urban entrepreneurialism, and various discourses surrounding the "world" or "global" city. The resulting strands of China-based urban studies reveal, at best, a partial understanding of the dynamics shaping contemporary Chinese cities. This dissertation seeks to reinterpret the production of the Chinese city through assemblage theory and articulation. Assemblage identifies the multitude of diverse and interweaving sociopolitical relations that construct an identifiable, if dynamic, urban imaginary. However, assemblage has been criticized for its inability to incorporate power relations into its networks. I argue here that assemblage is useful in understanding the various ways actors interpret, imagine, and inhabit the city. Articulation then becomes useful in explaining how those ideas are implemented through a framework of power relations. In the case of China, multiple ideologies and cultural logics inform the understanding of cities. However, these ideas are articulated through the primary technologies of rule the PRC has employed since its founding: the dual structure and the Leninist, top-down, spatial hierarchy. Rather than dismissing these as institutional relics of Maoism, this dissertation argues that they are foundational tools for the party-state's governance of society that transcend the historical eras of Maoism and post-Maoism. The first half of the dissertation deconstructs the metanarratives of neoliberalism and market transition, and examines the continued importance of the dual structure. The second half shows how the Chinese city is assembled and articulated through practices of place production in Wuhan, the largest city in central China.
- Geography