Place, Power, and Publics in Metropolitan China: Toward Burgeoning Social-Economic Orders

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Place, Power, and Publics in Metropolitan China: Toward Burgeoning Social-Economic Orders
Stream: Urban Studies
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Guanchi Zhang, Harvard Law School, United States (organizer, presenter)
Fangshen Zhu, Harvard University, United States (presenter)
Yang Shen, The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Germany (presenter)
Hao Chen, University of Southern California, United States (presenter)
Xuanyi Nie, Harvard Graduate School of Design, United States (presenter)
Narufumi Kadomatsu, Kobe University, Japan (chair, discussant)
Yosuke Sunahara, Kobe University, Japan (discussant)


Metropolitan areas in China are growing rapidly in terms of territory, population, and complexity. How do these new conditions reshape the economic and social order? How do people experience and react to burgeoning metropolitan orders? Five papers in the panel, from a variety of disciplines, display the multiplicity of metropolitan China—from urban expansion and semi-public spaces to school choices and medical care provision. Two common themes connect these papers: space and publics. Metropolitan areas encompass a constellation of heterogeneous places—cities, suburbs, and rural areas—but also blur the lines between them, opening up metropolitan space for various state and non-state actors to appropriate and contest. This panel explores how metropolitan space is produced and transformed by the purposeful reorganization of the local state and local power structures, as well as through the active human agency of city-dwellers in everyday life. Furthermore, these papers speak to the idea of publics, or a lack thereof, in the formation of metropolitan orders. The panel probes the mechanisms that allow public goods to cross boundaries and the conditions for semi-public spaces to take shape. It also evaluates the limitations in the formation of the public, as well as the alternatives of publics—accepting hegemonic orders or seeking privatized ones. The attainability and desirability of publics in metropolitan China will be extensively examined in the panel.