China’s National Urbanization Program: Party-State Expansion and the End of the Village

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Conveners: School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies & Faculty of Oriental Studies

Speaker: Professor Nick R. Smith

The past decade has seen an epochal shift in Chinese urbanization, with new development programs that aim for the near-total urbanization of the nation’s territory and population. These policies, including urban-rural coordination and new-type urbanization, represent a radical expansion of party-state power and an existential threat to China’s villages. The new programs promise to rewrite China’s reform-era social contract, undermining existing village institutions and ensuring perpetual dependence on the redistributive justice of the party-state. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Chongqing, one of the earliest and largest experimental areas for urban-rural coordination, Smith explores the implications of these policies for China’s urban future. Through the redevelopment of an experimental village, municipal and village actors compete to harness these policies and advance alternative forms of urbanization rooted in divergent visions for the just ordering of Chinese society.

Nick R. Smith is Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Yale-NUS College, Singapore. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning and a BA in East Asian Studies from Harvard University. Combining ethnography, spatial analysis, and archival research, his work explores the city as an institution and planning as a process of institution building.