Tianjin's Worldly Ambitions: From Hyper-Colonial Space to 'Business Park'

EBSCO Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Open House International, 2009, 34 (3), pp. 13 - 27
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Between 1860 and 1945, the Chinese port city of Tianjin was the site of up to nine foreign-controlled concessions, functioning side by side. Rogaski defined it as a 'hyper-colony', a term which reflects Tianjin's socio-political intricacies and the multiple colonial discourses of power and space. This essay focuses on the transformation of the Tianjin cityscape during the last 150 years, and aims at connecting the hyper-colonial socio-spatial forms with the processes of post-colonial identity construction. Tianjin is currently undergoing a massive renovation program: its transmogrifying cityscape unveils multiple layers of 'globalizing' spatialities and temporalities, throwing into relief processes of power and capital accumulation, which operate via the urban regeneration's experiment. This study uses an 'interconnected history' approach and traces the interweaving 'worlding' nodes of today's Tianjin back to the global connections established in the city during the hyper-colonial period. What emerges is Tianjin's simultaneous tendency towards 'worldclass- ness' and 'China-class-ness'.
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