Republication of “Unequal Cities of Spectacle and Mega-events in China” in French

Pleased to confirm that a paper of mine, entitled Unequal Cities of Spectacle and Mega-events in China and originally published in 2012 from the journal CITY, is going to be republished in French from the journal Alternatives Sud (AS) in March 2016. The republication is part of the journal’s themed issue on globalisation of sport,  with a focus on mega-events and their implications on developing/emergings countries and populations.

The journal Alternatives Sud is part of the activities by the Centre tricontinental (CETRI), a progressive research centre founded in 1976 in Belgium. According to the centre, it now aims to:

“promote a better understanding of the North-South/South-South relations and problems and to contribute to critical analysis of the dominant concepts and practices of development in the context of the neo-liberal globalisation. It is particularly supportive of understanding and discussing the role of social and political actors in the South who are fighting for the recognition of social, political, cultural and environmental rights.”

If you are interested in reading the full paper, you may visit the journal’s web site or here.

“Speculative Urbanisation in Asia”, an LSE-PKU Summer School course

The London School of Economics runs a summer school programme annually in Beijing in collaboration with Peking University. There will be altogether 15 courses provided for the 2015 session, including Speculative Urbanisation in Asia (course code GY201). This is an urban geography course of mine, an updated version of Urban Asia and China taught in the 2014 session.

Applications for the 2015 LSE-PKU Summer School in Beijing, China, will open in early January 2015. Early applications are recommended. For more details on application procedure and details of fees, accommodations and entry requirements, please visit the official web page of the LSE-PKU Summer School here.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any enquiries about the course itself. Below is the summary of the course descriptions and a list of topics covered.

Course Outline

The course explores the contemporary dynamics of urbanisation in Asia, with special emphasis on cities in China and other East and Southeast Asian economies, which share theexperiences of rapid urban development with strong state intervention in speculative city- (re)making and economic development. The course will benefit from the geographical advantage of taking place in Beijing and make use a number of China case studies to examine the differences as well as similarities of urban development between Chinese and other Asian cities.

Applying interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives, the course encourages students to develop critical knowledge and comparative understanding of how urban space is transformed in different social, economic and political settings, and what socio-spatial implications are made in a differentiated way upon local populations. Throughout the course, we ask whether the concepts and theories born out of the (post-)industrial Western urban experiences can be applicable to the understanding of urban Asia. We also ask what are the challenges that cities in East and Southeast Asia face, given its current development trajectory. We do this by examining a set of carefully selected themes that address (a) the integration of Asian cities with the global economy, (2) the distinctive characteristics of Asia’s urban development, and (3) the place-specificities of state intervention in forming urban growth strategies.

Course Contents

Day 1. Introduction: Planetary Urbanisation and Asian Cities
Day 2. Speculative Urbanisation and the East Asian States
Day 3. Urban Change in (Post-)Socialist China: Dialectics of Decentralisation and the Path
Dependency of Economic and Social Reform
Day 4. (Re-)making Cities in East Asia: Speculative Urbanisation and Growth Politics
Day 5. Land and Housing Development in China: ‘Nation of Chai’ (Demolition), Sub-urban
Development and Informality
Day 6. Olympic Cities: Event-led Urban Development and Politics of Spectacles
Day 7. Heritage and Urban Development (inc. Field trip to central Beijing)
Day 8. Gentrifying Asia: Global Gentrifications and Politics of Displacement
Day 9. Contesting Cities: The Right to the City and the Critique of Property-rights Activism
Day 10. Indebted Citizens: Economic Crisis and Work/Social Inequalities

LPS-GY201-2014 (1)

Part of the university campus where Peking University students carry out their daily life

LPS-GY201-2014 (2)

Weiming Lake (or Unnamed Lake in English) in Peking University campus

LPS-GY201-2014 (3)

Field trip in central Beijing (Drum and Bell Tower area) as part of the course activities in 2014

LPS-GY201-2014 (4)

One of many university canteens in Peking University

LPS-GY201-2014 (5)

Group photo session for the 2014 LSE-PKU Summer School students

New publication: Contesting speculative urbanisation and strategising discontents

In my earlier post, I have mentioned a conference in Athens that I am attending soon. As part of this, I’ve written a chapter for a book that is published as a conference proceeding. Attached below is the direct link to my chapter’s online version (images to follow are the ones inserted in my own chapter):

The full conference proceeding can be freely downloaded from this link: :

The proceeding includes a number of writings by key critics including David Harvey, Andy Merrifield, Tom Slater and Stavros Stavrides. For those of you interested in urban crisis in Greece, there are many interesting chapters in the book, written by those who study in/on Greece.

Update: A slightly revised version of this paper is now published from the CITY journal, and can be fully downloaded freely from the link below. Please use this journal version for any citation.

Shin, H.B. (2014) Contesting speculative urbanisation and strategising discontents. City 18(4-5): 509-516


Flattened former rural village in Guangzhou (Photograph by Hyun Bang Shin, 2010)

Flattened former rural village in Guangzhou (Photograph by Hyun Bang Shin, 2010)



LSE Comment and Opinion | From Beijing to Rio: Whose Games?

This is a commentary of mine posted on the LSE web site on 22 October, entitled From Beijing to Rio. It builds upon my research on mega-events in China to discuss lessons that can be learnt from China for Brazil’s forthcoming FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. I thank Candy Gibson at LSE Media for the help with editing.

“The excessive amount of money spent on a mega event inevitably sucks up public money to address social needs – and it hasn’t gone unnoticed in Brazil.” Hyun Bang Shin explains why the world’s attention on Rio in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup may reveal more than its government desires.

The eyes of the world will be on Brazil in the next couple of years when Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, but at what cost? Continue reading

Latest issue of Antipode out now, and the Right to the City in China

My paper “The Right to the City and Critical Reflections on China’s Property Rights Activism” recently came out from Antipode, and here is its introduction that has appeared in the journal’s most recent newsletter (original URL: Attached below is its full text as appeared in the newsletter:

Shin, H.B. (2013) The Right to the City and Critical Reflections on China’s Property Rights Activism‘.

Antipode Blog 28112013

Latest issue of Antipode out now, and the Right to the City in China

Hyun’s paper critically revisits the existing debates on the property rights activism in China and refers to the perspective on the right to the city to examine whose rights count in China’s urban development contexts. Through a case study of redevelopment projects in Guangzhou in China, he calls for the need for both migrants and local citizens to form a cross-class alliance that goes beyond the civic activism. Continue reading

Selected papers on Capitalism in China – free to download until the end of 2013

Taylor & Francis online has put together a selection of papers on China’s Capitalism. The topics range from economics and finance to management and development studies. In total, 15 papers published between 2007 and 2013 are listed on its themed page, and are free to download until the end of December 2013.


The selection has picked up my own paper, Unequal Cities of Spectacle and Mega-events in China, which discusses China’s key developmental issues (accumulation and social stability) through the lens of mega-events.

Other interesting papers include: Continue reading

Urban Asia and China | LSE-Peking University Summer School, August 2014

I am running a summer school course, Urban Asia and China (course code: LPS-GY201) as part of the LSE-Peking University Summer School in August 2014. The Summer School runs between 11-22 August 2014, and takes place in Beijing. More information on the Summer School can be found here: LSE-Peking University Summer School. Applications for the 2014 entry will be accepted from January 2014.

Below are the details of the above course. Please circulate and spread the words to any interested students.


LSE-PKU Summer School 2014

LPS-GY201: Urban Asia and China: Cities, Society and Development
Download the Outline Syllabus in PDF  Continue reading

Book Review [In Korean]: Shanghai Gone by Qin Shao

This is the fifth monthly contribution to the Korean daily newspaper, The KyungHyang Shinmun. I have chosen by Qin Shao, Professor of History at The College of New Jersey. There is an excerpt of the book in English, which can be viewed on the Asia Society web site on this link.

The book discusses the life and struggle of Shanghai’s displacees whose life courses have abruptly changed by the city-wide redevelopment projects. Facing the almighty power of the state, developers, media and so on, displacees are transformed from ordinary residents to an occupational petitioners, a barrack-room lawyer or a community leader. The rights discourse spelled out by these people also provides a fascinating insight for our understanding on how the interaction between reform measures (economic, political and legal) and people’s response to these have reshaped their rights awareness and views on social justice.

The contents of this book resonate with my own research on residents’ displacement and redevelopment in Seoul (Nangok neighbourhood, 난곡) in South Korea (see my papers from Geoforum and Environment and Urbanization) as well as in Beijing and Guangzhou in China (in particular, my papers from Antipode and Urban Studies).

2013년 6월 22일 지면 게재 예정 [해외 책] 서평 송고 원고:
(게재된 원고 바로보기)

상하이, 사라지다 (Shanghai Gone: Domicide and Defiance in a Chinese Megacity), 샤오

ShanghaiGone-QinShao하이 정부 통계를 근거로 유추해보면 2003년부터 2010년까지 48 가구대략 150만명 가까운 시민이 철거이주 대상이었던 것으로 파악된다. 2003 기준 상하이  가구수가 486만이었으니, 8 동안     집꼴로 각종 개발사업으로 인해 철거이주된 셈이다이러한 통계에는 농민공이라고도 불리우는 이주노동자가 제외되니 실제 철거이주된 도시민 규모는 훨씬   것이다중국의 20세기초 도시화 과정을 연구하던 동양사학자  샤오가 2013 발표한 저작 <상하이사라지다> 최근 10년에 일어난 상하이의 도시개발로 인해 집과 일상이 파괴된 보통 사람들의 고난과 투쟁 역사를 담고 있다.

중국 사회주의 정부하에서 재개발은 애초 주거환경개선이라는 복지적성격이 강하였다. 이러한 성격이 근본적으로 변한 것은 1990년대 집중된 주택 상품화, 토지 상품화 정책에 기인한다. 국가소유인 토지의 사용권이 시장 거래 대상이 되고, 판매 수익이 지방정부 예산외 재원으로편입되면서 지방정부가 토지개발에 이해관계를 갖는다. 여기에 급속히 팽창한 주택시장에 몰린 투자사, 건설사 등과 공통의 이해관계를 토대로 협력적 관계를 맺은 것이다. 이로써 도시재개발은 이상 복지라기보다는 이윤추구를 위한 수익사업이 것이다.

샤오는 도시재개발이 도시민 거주지의 의도적 파괴(Domicide)귀결한다고 이해한다. 10 가까운 기간 동안 수행한 현지 연구 결과를집약한 <상하이, 사라지다> 중국 도시민의 삶과 운명, 투쟁을 여러주민의 인생사를 통해 풀어낸다. 개별 가구가 투쟁 과정에서 정부 관료나 철거회사, 건설사 등으로부터 겪은 수모, 냉대가 생생히 그려지고, 청원을 하고 시위를 하는 과정에서 감수한 각종 고초와 인내가 생생히묘사되고 있다. 저항을 통해 평범한 유치원 선생님은 고압적 정부기관을 이상 두려워 않는직업적 청원자 되기도 하며, 평범하던 주민들이 문화혁명 당시 슬로건을 역으로 이용하여 권리주장도 펴고 국제정세도 고려하며 비슷한 처지의 피해자들에게 법률 자문도 하는 전략적활동가로 바뀌기도 한다.

책은 또한 도시 개발로 인한 집의 파괴가 주민에게 물리적 악영향을끼칠 뿐만 아니라 이주에 따른 경제적, 사회적 충격 역시 제공한다는 점을 강조한다. 특히 오랜 세월 정들었던 집이 없어지고 마을이 사라지고도시의 외관이 탈바꿈하는 과정에서 개인, 가정, 도시의 과거, 기억 역시 지워지는 집단적 기억상실을 문제점으로 지적한다. 강제이주 과정에서 기본권리가 짓밟히고 이를 회복하지 못한 철거민에겐 모든것이 원통함으로 가슴 깊숙히 남는다는 역시 강조한다.

샤오가 이들 철거민의 인생 얘기, 투쟁 기록 등을 통해 말하고자 하는 것은 무엇일까? <상하이, 사라지다> 단지 철거민의 권리가 도시발전 과정에서 어떻게 침해 당했는지를 전달하는 피해 보고서에 그치는것이 아니라 이들 철거민이 자신들의 존엄성을 지키고 사회경제적 정의를 실현하기 위해 얼마나 노력하는지를 말하고자 한다. 중국의 개혁개방정책 실시 이후, 권리 의식은 어떻게 변하는지, 소유권 개혁과 같은법적인 변화가 역사적으로 형성된 개인의 권리 의식과 어떻게 상호작용하는지 등을 보여준다. 그리고 이러한 일반 주민의 투쟁이 쌓이고 확산하면서 중국이 개방된 사회로 이행하고 있고 개방될 있음을주장한다. 결국 도시 주민이 살던 주택은 파괴적 도시정책으로 없어지고, 관료의 부패 등은 도시민에게 비통함을 안기었지만, 폐허 속에서 피어오른 것은 사회경제적 정의 인간으로서의 존엄성을 위한 투쟁이며이러한 투쟁을 통해 주민들 역시 변화함을 얘기하고자 것이다.

샤오가 주민의 관점에서 풀어내는 지난 10 상하이 철거 재개발 역사는 한국 도시에게도 익숙한 역사이다. 중국에서 강제 철거에 저항하는 주민의 모습은 우리의 과거이자 현재이기도 하다. 한국 역시 멀지않은 과거 1980년대 유엔인간정주계획(UN-HABITAT) 선정한세계에서 가장 폭압적인 철거를 자행하는 국가 남아프리카공화국과 함께 선정된 불미스런 기록을 갖고 있을 정도로 철거의 기억은 아픔의 기억이다. 하지만, 아픔과 상실의 역사는 투쟁의 역사임을 한국 철거민투쟁사가 증명한다. ‘두개의 다큐멘터리가 그려낸 용산재개발 참사에서 나타나듯이 이러한 아픔과 투쟁의 역사는 한국에서도 여전히 현재진행형이며, 그런 의미에서 철거민 가정과 일상의 파괴, 그리고 그들의저항과 권리의식의 발전을 담담히 기록해 샤오의 노력은 한국 지식인에게도 많은 시사점을 던져준다.

Continue reading

China Policy Institute Blog » China’s Speculative Urbanism and the Built Environment

The following is an invited contribution to the China Policy Institute Blog (thanks to Jonathan Sullivan for the invitation and editorial support). The theme of the blog at the time of the invitation was ‘environment’, and to me, this cannot be detached from the issue of China’s speculative urbanism that has been sweeping the country for years.

  • Updated on 12 October 2014: A related piece is published in the CITY journal in September 2014. It is entitled Contesting Speculative Urbanisation and Strategising Discontents. Click here to read the paper. Related blog post can be found here.

China Policy Institute Blog » China’s Speculative Urbanism and the Built Environment

Published on 24 April 2013

Critics have been speculating since the 1990s that China had already entered an ‘urban age,’ with a large number of migrants unaccounted for in the national census. But it was not until 2011 when the majority of the country’s national population were to be found, officially, in urban areas for the first time in history. From the viewpoint of the built environment, China’s urbanisation has entailed a massive accumulation of the country’s fixed assets through investments in infrastructure, facilities and real estate properties. Key cities have led the way. For instance, in the case of Beijing, the city’s share of total fixed asset investment in its gross regional product was more than 40 per cent for much of the 2000s. More than half of Beijing’s fixed asset investment during this period went into the real estate sector. Such a mode of urban accumulation plays out in a geographically uneven way. In comparison with Beijing, the share of Tianjin’s total fixed asset investment in its gross regional product was more than 50 per cent in 2008, and rapidly rose to 71 per cent in 2010, but the city’s investment in the real estate sector remained around 20 per cent or less during the first eight years of the 2000s. Continue reading

Essay for Open Democracy | Development and dissent in China’s ‘urban age’

Open Democracy based in the United Kingdom is running a new series on Cities in Conflict, which according to the series editors “seeks to examine cities as conceptualised, planned or contested sites of conflict, security or resistance.” The series includes a number of themes that range from ‘the insurgent city’, ‘cities of exception’ and ‘the city yet to come’ to ‘the disputed city’, ‘splintering cities’ and ‘cities of shock’. It bring together a number of critics who will undoubtedly provide an interesting set of critical perspectives on understanding contemporary cities in this ‘urban age’.

I have also been invited to contribute a piece, and my essay is online. Other essays on China include those from Jonathan Bach and Mary Ann O’Donnell on Shenzhen.

Development and Dissent in China’s ‘Urban Age’

HYUN BANG SHIN 25 February 2013 

The sight of houses standing alone in cleared construction sites has captured the media’s attention both in and outside of China in recent years. A recent case featured a five-storey house that stood in the middle of a newly constructed road in the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province. The house-owners were reportedly frustrated with the inadequate compensation they were offered by the local authority, and unlike their neighbours, refused to relocate. After sparking an internet sensation, the house was demolished in early December 2012: the owners eventually accepted compensation, reportedly around one third of what they claimed to be the original construction costs.  Continue reading