Welcome to Read Cities!

I am Yimin Zhao, an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Management at the Renmin University of China. I got my PhD in Human Geography and Urban Studies in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (October 2017), where I had been working since October 2012. I also hold a BA in Urban Management (2009) and an MSc in Urban and Regional Economics (2011), both from Peking University in Beijing, China.

My research focuses on socio-spatial processes of urban change, attending particularly to the role of the state in politico-economic dynamics of urban land and environment. Trained as a Human Geographer, I adopt mixed research methods (urban ethnography in particular) to understand microphysics of power relations and state processes in the everyday life, so as to uncover the logics of urban/environmental politics and their socio-spatial effects.

My doctoral thesis investigates agency and agents of the state-led and land-based urban accumulation during the last few decades of urban metamorphosis. With Beijing’s green belts as the study site, I identified in the 15-month-fieldwork that the state’s land business is a total project, where the hegemony of urbanisation has been established with ideological resources, political institutions, ecological masks, and the social fabric – all are subordinated to a renewed territorial logic of the Party-state to work spatial miracles and hence sustain its legitimacy.


PhD Thesis

  • Title: The hegemony of urbanisation: Questioning the production of space by the state in Beijing’s green belts
  • Abstract: This thesis investigates the state question in the context of China’s urban metamorphosis, with Beijing’s green belts as the study site. Formerly a place of realising the socialist-modernist vision, the imaginary green belts in Beijing have been rendered the centre of state-led and land-based accumulation strategies in the last two decades’ transition of that city. By investigating power dynamics associated with the deformed green belts, this thesis shows both the agency and agents of the urban metamorphosis and uncovers the underlying logic of the state that puts into use various governmental techniques to reproduce its relations of production in and by the urban space. It concludes that the green belts have become the new urban frontier in which the hegemony of urbanisation is consolidated in the course of the state’s reconfiguration of governmental techniques. And it is this hegemony that conveys the reproduction of the “socialist” relations of production and, in the end, the persistence of the Party-state regime.


Profile page (in Chinese)

Profile page (in English)



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