“There are no cities in China” and the paradox of urban theory

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2022
Issue Date:
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In The Communist Postscript, Boris Groys identifies convictions in question when concepts assumed to be valid are revealed to contain a certain paradox. Among these in China, the concept of the city stands out. Since the imperial era, the Chinese state has organized subnational territory and governed society and space through the administrative divisions (xingzheng quhua 行政区划), but only in the 1980s, with economic reform, did cities become administrative divisions. Urban theory does not recognize the primary power of reterritorialization in China’s urban process. Framed by dialectical reason, this analysis plumbs the history of territorial transmutation and the redefinition of cities in the reform era. It gives attention to the establishment of cities as vast rural-urban territorial-administrative areas, the special economic zone, and the special administrative region. Through changes to the administrative divisions, party-state power to change the map propels urban-industrial development for national transformation.
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