RGS-IBG AC 2016: Sessions to go


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This year’s RGS-IBG Annual Conference is going to start tomorrow in London. Below is a list of sessions that I want to hear more details during this three-day event. Welcome to join us if you are in London and are interested in any session listed below.

And by the way, I will give a short presentation in paper session No.339 (Friday 02 September 2016, 14:40 – 16:20). The abstract can be found here. I look forward to seeing you then and hearing any comment you would like to give.


Chair’s plenary lectures

The Ghost in the Nexus: Global Poverty and the Dilemmas of Development

Ananya Roy (University of California Los Angeles, USA)

Thursday 1 September 2016, 13.10, RGS-IBG Ondaatje Theatre

In this talk, I situate “nexus thinking” in the present conjuncture of sustainable development and in the long history of development as a global project. In doing so, I pay attention to the disciplines and professions that are being mobilized to solve urgent human problems, specifically that of poverty. Framed as scientific solutions towards a better world, such frameworks of action are also replete with distinctive aspirations and affects. Foregrounding the figure of the millennial – college students and young professionals enrolled in the global university and enlisted in the work of poverty action – I examine the potentialities and limits of the will to make poverty history, and thereby of nexus thinking.

Discussants: Jennifer Robinson (University College London, UK); Parvati Raghuram (The Open University, UK)


Plenaries, panels, workshops

Wednesday (31 August)

  • Area are sponsoring a panel on Ethics in/of geographical research, chaired by Peter Kraftl. Panellists: Sarah Marie Hall (The University of Manchester, UK); James Cheshire (University College London, UK); Anson Mackay (University College London, UK); Stephen Tooth (Aberystwyth University, UK); Jen Dickinson (University of Leicester, UK); and Andy Nobes (INASP/Author Aid, UK). Wednesday, 14.40; room: RGS-IBG Education Centre. This will be followed by a tea and cake reception.
  • The Antipode lecture, Recomposing Urban Collective Life: On Operations and the Inoperable, will be given by AbdouMaliq Simone (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany). Wednesday, 16.50; room: RGS-IBG Ondaatje Theatre. This will be followed by a reception.

Thursday (1 September)

  • Author meets critics: Fiona McConnell – Rehearsing the State: The Political Practices of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (RGS-IBG Book Series, Wiley-Blackwell). Thursday, 09.00; room: RGS-IBG Drayson Room.
  • The Progress in Human Geography lecture, Trust – in Geography, will be given by Charles Withers (The University of Edinburgh, UK). Thursday, 11.10; room: RGS-IBG Ondaatje Theatre.
  • Colleagues of John Urry (1946-2016) have organised a Remembrance and Book Launch in celebration of his work. Thursday, 16.50; room: RGS-IBG Council Room. This will be followed by a reception.
  • Authors meet critics: Planetary gentrification by Loretta Lees , Hyun Bang Shin and Ernesto López-Morales (Polity). Thursday, 16.50; room: RGS-IBG Ondaatje Theatre. To be followed by a drinks reception, sponsored by Urban Studies.

Friday (2 September)

  • The Social and Cultural Geography lecture, Beyond policing the migrant crisis: Geographical contributions, will be given by Parvati Raghuram (The Open University, UK). Friday, 09.00.
  • Colleagues and former students of Doreen Massey have organised a celebration of her life and work, including screening a montage made up from contributions from people who met her and worked with her in all spheres of her life. Friday, 16.50; room: RGS-IBG Ondaatje Theatre.


Paper sessions on Wednesday (31 August)

No.16 The London nexus – metropolitan elites in the 21st century, new perspectives on Britain’s south-eastern skew

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 1 (09:00 – 10:40) || Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 164, Imperial College London || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/16

No.24 Geography and Decolonization, c.1945-c.1980 (1)

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 1 (09:00 – 10:40) || Room 5, Skempton Building, Imperial College London || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/24

No.29 Post-phenomenological Geographies: methods and styles of researching and writing the human (1): Subjects

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 1 (09:00 – 10:40) || Royal School of Mines, Room G.05 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/29

No.56 Geography and Decolonization, c.1945-c.1980 (2)

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 2 (11:10 – 12:50) || Room 5, Sherfield Building || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/56

No.61 State, Territory, Urbanism: Exploring the Nexus Between Government and Infrastructure (2)

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 2 (11:10 – 12:50) || Room 10, Sherfield Building || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/61

No.69 Affect and the Geographies of Power

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || RGS-IBG Ondaatje Theatre || Panel discussion: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/69

No.84 Nexus Thinking in Gentrification Studies (2)

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 164 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/84

No.98 Forging politicised solidarities in, against and beyond the European crisis (1): Articulating local solidarities

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || Royal School of Mines, Room G.05 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/98

No.102 Set in motion: walking the history of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) c.1830-2016

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || Offsite (field tour): http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/102

No.118 Nexus Thinking in Gentrification Studies (3)

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 4 (16:50 – 18:30) || Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 164 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/118

No.128 Operations of capital: Studying the nexus of land, housing, and finance across the North-South divide

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 4 (16:50 – 18:30) || Sherfield Building, Room 7 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/128

No.132 Forging politicised solidarities in, against and beyond the European crisis (2): Towards trans-local solidarities

Timetable: Wednesday 31 August 2016, Session 4 (16:50 – 18:30) || Royal School of Mines, Room G.05 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/132


Paper sessions on Thursday (1 September)

No.181 Contested urban green spaces in the ‘austerity city’: Re-politicising the environment and commoning public spaces? (1): Funding and Management

Timetable: Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 2 (11:10 – 12:50) || Skempton Building, Room 064b || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/181

No.215 Contested urban green spaces in the ‘austerity city’: Re-politicising the environment and commoning public spaces? (2): Planning and Governance

Timetable: Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || Skempton Building, Room 064b || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/215

No.217 The City-Hinterland Nexus in Global Context: The dynamics of rural-urban connections in different global contexts (1)

Timetable: Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 164 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/217

No.234 Deaf spaces of Victorian London – a walking tour

Timetable: Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || Offsite (field tour): http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/234


Paper sessions on Friday (2 September)

No.271 Geographies of Anti-colonialism (1): Theorising Anti-colonialisms

Timetable: Friday 02 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 – 10:40) || Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Lecture Theatre G34 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/271

No.281 Beyond Borders and Nations: Transnational Geographies from Syria to Europe (1): Transnational Geographies of solidarity and resistance

Timetable: Friday 02 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 – 10:40) || Skempton Building, Room 165 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/281

No.301 Geographies of Anti-colonialism (2): Histories of Anti-colonialism

Timetable: Friday 02 September 2016, Session 2 (11:10 – 12:50) || Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Lecture Theatre G34 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/301

No.311 Beyond Borders and Nations: Transnational Geographies from Syria to Europe (2): Transnational Geographies of segregation

Timetable: Friday 02 September 2016, Session 2 (11:10 – 12:50) || Skempton Building, Room 165 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/311

No.339 Narrating Displacements: A Radical Way to Rethink Urban Theories and Politics

Timetable: Friday 02 September 2016, Session 3 (14:40 – 16:20) || Skempton Building, Room 163 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/339

No.374 Rethinking Life at the Margins: The Assemblage of Contexts, Subjects and Politics

Timetable: Friday 02 September 2016, Session 4 (16:50 – 18:30) || Sherfield Building, Room 7 || Abstracts: http://conference.rgs.org/AC2016/374


Closing drinks reception

Friday 18:45-20:00; RGS-IBG Ondaatje Theatre



RGS-IBG AC 2016: Narrating Displacements


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Narrating Displacements: A Radical Way to Rethink Urban Theories and Politics

RGS-IBG Annual Conference, August 30 to September 2, London, UK


Hyun Bang Shin (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)
Yimin Zhao (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)
Mara Nogueira (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)

Session abstract

We have been witnessing the rise of urban expansion, gentrification, mega-events and many other political economic events in urban space; all of them have direct impacts on the daily life of local residents through large- or small-scale displacements. Displacement hence becomes a term that has been widely used for critical urban theories in analysing contemporary urban change, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world. When people use this word in the literature, however, relatively few attentions are paid to mechanisms through which place-based understandings and discourses of displacement are enabling/ bounding the historical-geographical conjuncture of domination and resistance.

Discourses of displacement are diverse geographically; they are also narrated and deployed by different subjects from distinct perspectives in displacement processes. Expressions like “chaiqian” (demolition and relocation), “qianyi” (relocation), “qiangpo qianyi” (forced relocation) are used in China to express actions through which the state institutions and businesses operate. In South Korea, “cheolgeo” (demolition), “gangje cheolgeo” (forced demolition) or “yiju” (relocation) are more frequently utilised by those subject to displacement. Elsewhere in Latin America, for example in Brazil, “despejo” (eviction) “desalojamento forçado” (forced eviction) and “expulsão” (expulsion) are common concepts deployed by those suffering displacement threats and their allies. On the other hand, the actors promoting displacement prefer to deploy milder terms such as “desocupação” (evacuation) or “realocação” (reallocation).

The use of these particular expressions shifts the focus towards the final act of displacement; even though in reality people would experience (the feeling of) displacement long before actual demolition, eviction or relocation. Moreover, discussions about belonging and the sense of place show how displacement may occur even in the absence of such events. In this regard, abrupt changes to space might cause people to feel “out of place” even though they remain in the same location. To narrate the experience of displacement focusing only on the final acts has serious negative implications for formulating effective strategies that allow pre-emptive earlier contestations to resist and counteract displacement pressure. Furthermore, how displacement is actually narrated in a given local context is not trivial, for conceptualising displacement is itself political.

This session invites papers to reflect on narratives and discourses mobilised around displacement in a diverse range of social, political, economic and cultural settings by attending specifically to the tensions emerging from conceptualisation of displacement by different subjects in daily practices. The aim is to collaboratively reveal the role of displacement discourses in constructing the historical-geographical conjuncture of domination/ resistance, and to uncover power relations/ mechanisms and state effects produced within this conjuncture. Suggestive topics include:

  • Place-based understanding (especially outside the Western context) of displacement and its socio-spatial effects;
  • Conceptualising displacement by different subjects;
  • The role of space in enabling or bounding people’s conceptualisation of displacement, or in affecting their reflections on the gaps between different conceptualisations;
  • The state manoeuver and tactics in promoting displacement with legitimised (sometimes hegemonic) ideology;
  • The effects of different narratives in reshaping understandings of displacement and in opening up possibilities for resistances.

Abstracts of presentations – Session 1

Chair: Hyun Bang Shin
Time: Friday 02 September 2016, 14:40 - 16:20
Venue: TBC

Antagonistic Space and Subjects in Beijing’s Greenbelt

Yimin Zhao (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)

In the mainstream literature of contentious politics, space is frequently assumed as a container or a bounded entity. This view has been gradually altered by political geographers, who attend more to the constitutive role of space in understanding socio-political changes. Yet what has been under-examined in the literature is how and to what extent individuals become both spatial objects and political subjects simultaneously in the rise and fall of social movements. This research, drawing on the observation of contingent construction (and decaying) of collective actions in Beijing’s Greenbelt, aims to demonstrate that space and subjects of resistances are mutually constitutive of each other. The paper will illustrate that this mutual constitution needs to be identified by focusing on residues of the hegemonic logic underlying the rise of spatial antagonism. In Beijing’s Greenbelt, the local state’s urbanisation project not only transforms the territorial structure of the rural-urban continuum and the political economy within this structure but also shapes the way villagers view their land, houses and (property) rights. Following transformations of their lifeworld, villagers’ bodies and subjectivities are remade to the extent that their consciousness, identities and discourses are all affected and redefined by the local state’s hegemonic logic. For example, money, rather than the sense of place, becomes the predominant evaluation principle in the displacement process, deployed by both local state and villagers themselves. These impacts altogether make their resistances to displacement possible, but at the same time make these actions contingent and render difficult, if not impossible, the call for wider and stronger resistance alliances for “the right to the city”.

Disciplining Street Life in Hong Kong: Narratives of Displacement and Urban Resistance

Maurizio Marinelli (University of Sussex, UK)

This paper investigates the mega-project of transforming the physical and socio-economic structures of retailing and dwelling in colonial-global Hong Kong. The selected focus is on the progressive annihilation of street markets to create space for ultra-modern, luxury high-rise buildings. Street markets play a crucial role in the policies of urban regeneration, heritage, place making, healthy eating, sustainability, environmental impact, social and community cohesion (Watson, 2005; Stillerman 2006; Shepherd, 2009). Based on the premise that street hawking and street markets are historically part of a wider socio-economic, political, and cultural system, this paper will concentrate on the stories of survival, resistance and metamorphosis of the ‘vital living past’ of Graham Street Market in Hong Kong’s Central District. This 150 years old market, a remarkable example of ‘living heritage’, is currently under threat due to neo-liberal logic of redevelopment and gentrification of colonial-global Hong Kong: in 2007 the Urban Renewal Authority announced its plan to destroy the vibrant market (which was declared ‘a slum’), and replace it with four brand new, sleek, luxury high-rise office buildings, hotels and shopping malls. The paper analyses the role of concerned civil society organisations (such as ‘Savethemarket’) vis-à-vis Government authorities, urban planners and developers in the battle against domicide: the destruction of home which also implies the destruction of memory (Porteous, Smith, 2001). The analysis of this historical market will shed light on the entanglement between the condition of precarity of the street hawkers and the complex socio-economic and political mechanisms which are leading to the annihilation of this ‘living heritage’.

Who has the right to remain in place?

Mara Nogueira (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)

How far can we stretch the concept of displacement? This paper discusses this question drawing on qualitative data collected during five months of fieldwork in the city of Belo Horizonte/Brazil regarding three cases of “displacement” connected to the World Cup. The first one concerns an informal settlement, evicted to give room for an urban mobility project. The second focuses on a group of informal workers displaced for the modernization of the local stadium. The third case discusses the struggle of a neighbourhood association to stop the construction of a hotel in their residential street. I argue that only the first case is rightfully considered a “displacement” case, in the sense that the State recognizes the right of the occupiers to be reallocated. I further discuss how the past historic struggle of the social movements for the right to dwell has engendered both legislation that acknowledges their rights and institutions that manage the process, guaranteeing some minimum rights. On the other hand, in the case of the stadium workers, their claims for the right to reallocation are based on weaker assumptions that are not covered by appropriate legislation and, therefore, not recognized by the State. In their struggle for the recognition of their rights, the workers have employed many strategies and alliances that are described in the paper. Finally, the paper raises the question of how appropriate is the use of the concept of displacement to categorize the processes unfolding in the third case. The neighbourhood association wants to keep their residential neighbourhood from changing. I argue that, although they’ve deployed a series of arguments (legal and political) to stop the hotel construction, what motivates their struggle is the desire to remain in place. However, the search for a place within the urban is a conflictive process. Who has the right to remain in place and who doesn’t? Is every claim against displacement equal through the lens of social justice? Does the concept of displacement become a-political once you stretch it too far?

Understanding multiple voices within the resistance movement of the Occupations of Izidora in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Luciana Maciel Bizzotto (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Urban occupations stand out as a strategy to fight for the urban re-appropriation in the current political resistance scenario in Brazilian metropolis. What has been observed is the multiplication of horizontal occupations of empty or abandoned lands, with the support of social movements organized against the eviction of thousands of families that make up the current housing deficit in the country. This form of resistance comprises a series of discourses, considering the different actors that are activated by it. To illustrate this point, I present the case of the resistance movement of the Occupations of Izidora, located in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. The network of supporters that formed the resistance process of these urban occupations – #ResisteIzidora movement – is inserted in a context of strengthening social mobilization in the city and has helped to prevent the eviction of about 8,000 families that now resist to a project that fits in strategic planning’s logic. Based on the methodology of Mapping Controversies, data were compiled through interviews, newspaper reports, blogs and Facebook pages, which were analyzed by the various discourses made by the actors of the resistance network settled – social movements, residents, universities, public institutions and others. The study has shown how even within a resistance movement, in which different actors fight jointly to the non-eviction of the occupations, they do, however, adopt different speeches, ultimately attributing the resistance process itself different meanings.

Abstracts of presentations – Session 2

Chair: Yimin Zhao
Time: Friday 02 September 2016, 16:50 - 18:30
Venue: TBC

The Revanchist Politics of Benevolent Disaster-Induced Evictions Across Metro Manila: Pasig City in the Post-Ketsana Moment

Maria Khristine Alvarez (University of the Philippines, The Philippines)

In this paper, I examine the discourse of disaster-induced evictions in Metro Manila using Pasig City as case study. I draw on critical discourse analysis of interviews and policy documents to discuss the peculiar portrayal of ‘danger zone’ evictions as both apolitical and political, and reflect on the political expediency of this particular configuration, to point to a nascent mode of enunciating and enforcing evictions. I demonstrate how portraying slum evictions as logical interventions and as “technical”, “neutral”, and “apolitical” acts of governance (Ferguson, 1994) de-problematizes the common wisdom of disaster risk management and depoliticizes ‘expert’ opinion in order to diminish the hostility at the heart of evictions. I argue that the deployment of benevolence, which materializes as performance of concern for safety, is instrumental in facilitating outward flows of unwanted bodies. Yet, I show that this benevolence is betrayed by the insistence on contested vulnerabilities and the persistence of eviction orders, by the harassment to self-demolish and ‘voluntarily relocate’ to off-city resettlement sites, and by stories of relocation that dispute the peddled promise of a safe future. I conclude that mobilizing the discourse of ‘apolitical’ yet ‘benevolent’ evictions conceals the revanchist politics of Metro Manila’s disaster resiliency program.

Gusur and Rusunawa: Rebuild Indonesia Cities from the Scratch

Syarifah Aini Dalimunthe (Indonesia Institute of Sciences, Indonesia)

Jakarta current inhabitant is 19 million and 5 million of them are occupied and clogged waterways. This has created flood, then frequently resulting in severe socioeconomic damage. City administrator is now looking for options to reduce the risk. Current city administration terms and operating procedures to reduce the risk are gusur (violent eviction) and rusunawa (low-cost apartment). By December 2015, the city administration conducted gusur program to 12,000 families occupying riverbanks in a single slum neighborhood namely Kampung Pulo in order to speed up its river normalization program. The victim of gusur is set to be relocated to the nearby rusunawa expected to be able to accommodate 4,500 families. While the rest has to survive on their own such as rented a house nearby or send their children back to hometown. Despite the housing backlog, the city administration pledged not to stop the gusur project. The term gusur is now a formula spread among city administration across Indonesia. Gusur claimed to change Indonesian cities to meet global standard, ensure public order, remove squatter settlement or clear land for infrastructure projects. However, the government has used excessive force to conduct gusur across Indonesia cities and failed to provide alternative housing or other assistance to the displaced. It has created discourses which emphasize the right of the poor in the city and their right to make a viable living.

(Re)location, Resistance and Memory: Narratives of displacement amongst earthquake relocatees in Christchurch, New Zealand

Simon Dickinson (University of Exeter, UK)

Forced relocation as a result of government initiative and intervention has received significant attention. Much of this work has focused on the entrepreneurial politics of market-orientated development (Wu, 2014) and discourses surrounding the deconcentration of the urban poor by way of clearing-the-way policy (Goetz, 2003). Yet, disasters, and the subsequent relocation of affected populations during ‘recovery’, has received less attention – presumably because the pre-text of chaos and ‘public safety’ seemingly obscures the need to examine how particular power relations/mechanisms play out under the context of ’emergency’. With this in mind, this paper develops an account of resistance and place-making amongst forced relocatees after the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010-11. Relocation was prompted following a government decision to compulsorily acquire property based on damage and future risk – the criteria for which have never been published. Arguing that local coverage has shaped discourses that speak of romanticised, homogenous forms of ‘pushing back’, I draw attention to the ephemeral and interminable acts of resistance that may not otherwise be observed during relocation. Pointing towards these alternative narratives, the paper highlights the various (and often illicit) ways in which movers sought to maintain connections with their earthquake-damaged community/property. Given the contentious process by which relocation was dictated, these acts of resistance derive from a complex interplay between exhibiting agency in ‘place-making’ and the perceived capacity to subtly undermine the power mechanisms at play in the post-quake environment. I contend that these acts have a distinct temporality and speak to motifs of absence, presence and memory.


Hyun Bang Shin (The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)


Invisible green belts in Beijing


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Invisible green belts in Beijing: From romantic landscape to businesses opportunity


The green belt may be a British idea imported to China, but the concept has worked out to be very different in practice. In the context of Beijing’s urbanisation, it turns out that the local state uses the ecological discourse of the green belt to legitimate its land businesses. Despite the differences, we suggest that there are lessons from China for Britain. In 1958, Beijing saw the approval of its first modern master plan (Beijing-Archives 1958). The municipal government of Beijing proposed in this master plan that “the layout of urban construction should not be concentrated in the city centre anymore, and that a new style is needed with green spaces planned between decentralised conglomerates” (ibid). This marks the birth of Beijing’s green belt as an idea (or, maybe more accurately, a feature on a map).

The idea of Green Belt in Beijing also corresponded to the heydey of a socialist campaign named “The Great Leap Forward” during which the Chinese people were mobilised by Mao Zedong to “surpass Great Britain and catch up with the United States.” Among many targets of this ambitious campaign, “gardening the Earth” was set as a socio-ecological goal to achieve (Chen 1996). In this moment, Sir Ebenezer Howard’s modernist imagination of urban space and Mao Zedong’s socialist modernist vision of the country encountered and blended with each other. Through this encountering, the British-born planning canon was embedded in Beijing’s urban planning practices, which in turn produced a view of landscape including the green belt that mixed the revolutionary and the romantic.

For Chen Gan, then director of Master Plan Office in Beijing Urban Planning and Administration Bureau, a decentralised city layout including green belts could be a flexible tool to deal with rapid urbanisation and could direct urban development in a well-planned way in the long future (Chen 1996, 13-17; originally written in 1959). This partly explains why green belt has been set as an essential part of the urban area in Beijing since 1958. In practice, however, Beijing’s green belt existed more as a part of the master plan than real space for nearly four decades. In a letter written by Chen Gan in 1967, he admitted that suburban vegetable plots (more than 153.33 km2) had covered a majority of the planned green belt area. Beijing’s green belt had not achieved a romantic landscape of open countryside but was full of rural communities, residents, and their cultivated fields.

In 1994, the Beijing municipal government (BMG) focused once again on the green belt. Their new aim, familiar to the UK, was to prevent the sprawl of urban areas and to make the 240km2 green belt “really green” (BMG 1994). The BMG gave the market and capital a key role as villages located within the green belt were required to “use green spaces to attract investments, and utilise these for the exploitation of land, build green spaces in the exploitation process, and cultivate green spaces through green industry” (ibid; my italics). These policies can be summarised in a simpler way: the green belt was to make acceptable the promotion of real-estate development in the urban fringe.

17 townships and villages were included in the city’s green belt, they covered 95.23 km2 in total (39.7% of the planned green belt as a whole). In the following three years, however, only 8.62 km2 of this land was ‘turned into green’, while another 11.16 km2were expropriated by BMG for land businesses and infrastructure construction (Beijing Municipal Committee of Urban Planning, 1999). On the other hand, the area of farmland and vegetable plots in this area decreased significantly between 1993 and 1999 (down from 130 km2 to 61.82 km2), and a majority of this decline can be explained by the development of real estate projects (ibid). In this same process, 1.33 million square metres of residential houses were built and sold. The green belt was not “really green,” but became a part of the city’s urbanisation process and turned out to be a “really expensive” area to live in.

These outcomes made clear to municipal officials the potential values of land plots in the planned green belt area. From 2000 to 2003, another set of policies were proposed by BMG to enhance its ‘land businesses’. The “General Headquarter for Building Beijing’s green belt” was established in 2000, headed by then-Mayor Mr Liu Qi (BMG 2000). In 2002, the “General Headquarter” commanded that “related townships and villages are strictly forbidden to attract any investments for land development in the Green Belt” (BMG 2002). “All construction land plots,” they said, “that have not been used in the Green Belt area should principally be expropriated by BMG before any kinds of land transactions” (ibid). BMG’s ambition of controlling more land resources was further practised by proposing the second green belt in 2003 (with a total area of 1,620 km2, see the dark green area in Figure 1) and establishing a “land reservation mechanism” (tudi chubei) in the same year (BMG 2003). These policies together enabled BMG to gradually achieve and practice a monopoly of land supply at the city level (Beijing Municipal Bureau of Land Resources, 2011).

Beijing green belts

Figure 1: A bird’s eye view of Beijing’s two green belts,  Source: BMCUP (2013). Note: (1) the purple line denotes the boundary of the city’s “core urban area”; (2) the light green area signifies the first green belt, proposed in 1958, while the dark green area indicates a small part of the second green belt, introduced in 2003; (3) the light yellow area around Tiananmen Square is set as the urban centre area (zhongxin chengqu), while the ten small yellow areas between first and second green belt are sub-centres (bianyuan zutuan).

There is a rising conflict between making green belts and making money through land resources. In the case of Sunhe (one of a number of areas I’ve studied; see Figure 2 below), the landscape has lost out. The socialist-modernist vision of the urban landscape has been subordinated to capital flow. Plenty of proposals and projects are now put forward, by local government and real estate developers together, to promote land and housing businesses in the green belt. The label of green belt is retained more as a mask to legitimise these booming land businesses, and the interconnection between ecological discourses and political economic concerns looms large in this process.

Sunhe landscape

Figure 2. The invisible green belt in Sunhe  Source: photo by the author, 29/12/2014. Note: according to the master plan and regulatory detailed plan, this area should be a part of Beijing’s Second green belt. It is temporarily discarded because no privileged policies can be sought to run land businesses– but it will not take very long before such policies being figured out.

I now conclude with a lesson from China for Britain. Before arguing for the revising of green belts it would be wise to ask about the political and economic ambitions underlying these proposals. Who is raising them? Who benefits – will changes benefit present and future residents more than real estate developers? And, what other general effects on social justice can and should be identified? These questions are fundamental, and other issues such as (the control of) housing prices can be examined better when put into this political economic process.


(First appeared on LSE Green Belt Blog, see: http://www.lse.ac.uk/geographyAndEnvironment/research/GreenBelt/Green-Belt-Blog/Green-Belt-Blog-Home/Invisible-green-belts-in-Beijing.aspx)



Beijing-Archives. 1958. No. 1-5-253: Report on the Preliminary Urban Plan of Beijing. edited by Beijing Archives. Beijing.

BMBLR. 2011. The plan for protecting and utilising land resources in the 12th-Five-Year-Plan peirod. published by Beijing Municipal Bureau of Land Resources. Beijing.

BMCUP. 1999. Survey report on the planned Green Belt area around Beijing’s city centre. published by Beijing Municipal Committee of Urban Planning. Beijing.

BMCUP. 2013. Evaluation report on the implementation of Green Belt policies in Beijing’s urban core area. published by Beijing Municipal Committee of Urban Planning. Beijing.

BMG. 1994. Ordinance on greening the planned Green Belt area. published by Beijing Municipal Government. Beijing.

BMG. 2000. Ordinance on speeding up the construction of Green Belt. published by Beijing Municipal Government. Beijing.

BMG. 2002. Announcement on making unified arrangement of remaining construction land plots in the Green Belt area. published by Beijing Municipal Government. Beijing.

BMG. 2003. Ordinance on speeding up the construction of the Second Green Belt. published by Beijing Municipal Government. Beijing.

Chen, Gan. 1996. Rethinking Beijing: a memoir [Jinghua Daisilu]. Beijing: Beijing Academy of Urban Planning and Design.






The City of London


我这学期给一年级的方法论课当助教。按照惯例,这门课在每学年的最后都要安排整整一星期的田野调研。今天是田野的第三天,学生们四散开去做观察与访谈的时候,我闲坐在Tate Modern附近的小酒吧,顺手写下了一些感想,#不一定对#



尽管人口快速增长,公共服务设施却没有跟上。教育、医疗,等等等等,应有尽无。年轻的移民二代们纷纷辍学,继而在就业市场上受歧视,只能通过各种灰色、黑色手段谋生。于是莫伦贝克也就在当地的话语里变成了人人谈之色变的地带,毒品、黑市、犯罪、黑社会…… 如果经济恶化到连这些谋生手段都会受阻,接下来被IS招募也就几乎成了顺理成章的事儿——哪怕他们很多人之前并不信仰伊斯兰教。

看似全球化了的世界,看似无处不在的ISIS,其实就扎根在这些琐碎平凡的本地细节里。这就是 Doreen Massey 想借助 “a global sense of place” 概念加以说明的东西。在面对这些细节和后果时,请先不要轻易下定论,急急忙忙地去指责某些人、某些族群、或者某种宗教。我们,以及有司,在做这些指责之前,是不是应该反思:比利时政府做错了什么?面对大量移民涌入的郊区(或城市边缘),他们本应该做些什么,能够让事情不会走向如此糟糕的局面?

这些反思很重要,无论是在政治还是在地理层面。但是本文的目标并没有如此宏伟。我只是想用莫伦贝克作为引子,把这几天带学生在东伦敦做田野时的所见所感给素描出来——毕竟,这里像莫伦贝克一样,也曾被归入 “城市边缘” 的范畴。

伦敦并不是一个城市,而是一群市镇的集合。事实上,直到今日,伦敦市长 (The Mayor of London) 总共也才只有两任。现任是 Boris Johnson,前任是2000年就职的 Ken Livingstone。在那之前长达十五年的时间里,伦敦是没有“市政府”这一行政级别的。这其中牵扯到的左派前“市政府”和保守党/撒切尔夫人之间的恩恩怨怨,大概也反映了英国中央政府鲜明的集权特征(而不是什么大宪章、分权、自治之类的招牌)。这个话题暂且按下,留待日后再写吧。

大伦敦地区总共有二十多个市镇,其中只有两个获颁特许状,拥有城市权,一座是威斯敏斯特,另一座是金融城 (The City of London)。 金融城的别名叫 “一平方英里” (The Mile),足可见其袖珍程度。但是这并不能阻碍它的影响力:这里有英格兰银行(和它庞大的地下金库),有伦敦证券交易所,有各种各样的“总部”。虽说东边新建的金丝雀码头分流走了不少巨头,但是这里依然是名副其实的欧洲(乃至世界)金融中心。

就在这一平方英里的边缘,存在着另外一种截然不同的空间和生活,并常常被贴上 “East End” 的标签。那曾是一个贫穷、疾病、无序的地带,是开膛手杰克盘踞的场所,是混杂着孟加拉商店和索马里难民的社区;那里有着英国巴洛克风格的教堂、乔治时代的联排别墅,但也有整个英国最大的清真寺。初看上去,这里似乎跟布鲁塞尔的莫伦贝克区并无不同:没落的城市边缘,杂居的各色人群、看似停滞了的社会流通渠道。

但是如果深入到这里的街巷,事情又变得完全不一样。故事实在太多,这里就讲一讲具有代表性的福涅尔街 (Fourneir Street) 吧——它就坐落在 The City of London 曾经的城墙之外;城墙是罗马人的遗存,直到中世纪晚期一直是划分城市内外的界线。

这条不长的街巷紧挨着 Spitalfields Market,东侧与著名的 Brick Lane 毗邻。我们从这个市场说起:Spitalfields Market 由查理一世下令兴建,后经查理二世扩建(多么悲催的身世)。当时的想法很简单,在 The City of London 的城墙外有很多荒废的空地,不如拿来建成集市,既能方便本地居民,也能趁机收点税。这个市场一直演化和扩展,后来逐渐成为伦敦全城的蔬菜水果批发集散地,直至1991年迁往远郊的Leyton。



犹太人的崛起并没有让伦敦东区全面建成小康社会。19世纪中晚期,整个东区(包括福涅尔街和砖巷在内)的贫穷和混乱逐渐成为社会的共识,但是当时的政府还没有演化出“福利国家”的特征,各种社会事务基本都由“社会改革家”们 (Social reformers) 操持。他们建成妇女儿童救济中心 (现在是LSE的一座学生宿舍),法律援助中心,移民事务服务中心,志愿服务组织,儿童玩具交换中心等等等等。在做这所有事情的时候,他们没有区分“我们”和“他们”,没有歧视所谓“外来人口”,虽然最终的效果并不如设想的显著,但是却的确真真切切地改善了很多人的生活。



从新教教堂到犹太教堂,最后到清真寺,这个空间转换不仅具有物质性,而且也可以被视作一种隐喻。这个空间隐喻所再现的是伦敦金融城边缘过去三个世纪的社会过程及其囊括的经济和人口巨变。这样的巨变并不能用简单的诸如 “落脚城市” 一类的概念来归纳,因为后者往往只强调整个社会过程的某一个面向,而忽视了其他很多极为关键的要素和瞬间。

这个街道所在的市镇政府 (Borough of Tower Hamlets) 并没有把孟加拉人和他们的宗教、习俗、文化视作洪水猛兽,反而尝试着用孟加拉移民和他们故乡之间千丝万缕的联系来推进本地街区的发展。现在走在福涅尔街旁边的砖巷 (Brick Lane) 里,如果你足够细心的话,会发现他们的路牌都已经变成了英文和孟加拉双语书写。不仅如此,雄心勃勃的市镇政府甚至还在努力搞个大新闻,把这整个区域变成 “Bengla Town”。

在这里,我们已经能够看到在东伦敦和莫伦贝克区存在着相当的区别,而 “落脚城市” 之类的概念则倾向于用某种同一性(比如过度强调移民的社会流动)抹杀这些在地性的差异,因而必须进行批判性地反思。在此,仅止于描述差异似乎还不够,我们还需要思考:到底还有什么样的空间话语 / 路径能够被应用过来,进一步解读和反思像莫伦贝克、福涅尔街这样的城市边缘?

再进一步追问,在中国这样的地方,当城市持续扩张时,我们是否以及如何可能界定城市的边界与边缘?在任何尝试界定城市边缘的话语里(比如最近流行的 “城中村”、“城乡结合部”),我们该如何探究隐藏其间的政治和政治经济野心?



1445 Rural-urban continuum area as a “blind field”: Critical reflections on the spatiality of China’s urbanisation

is scheduled on Tuesday, 3/29/2016, from 12:40 PM – 2:20 PM in Union Square 18, Hilton Hotel, 4th Floor

Asian Geography Specialty Group
China Specialty Group
Urban Geography Specialty Group

Yimin Zhao – London School of Economics
Hyun Bang Shin – London School of Economics and Political Science

Hyun Bang Shin – London School of Economics and Political Science


12:40 PM Author(s): *Calvin King-Lam Chung – University College London
Abstract Title: Urban Sustainability Fix, Rural Environment, and China’s Evolving Rural-Urban Continuum Areas

1:00 PM Author(s): *Mi Shih – Rutgers University
Abstract Title: The Multiplicity of Land Expropriation: Villages, Agency and Urbanization in China

1:20 PM Author(s): *Ye Lin, Visiting Scholar – Department of Anthropology, Harvard University
Abstract Title: Temporary Life in the “Ruins”

1:40 PM Author(s): *Ziyan Wang – London School of Economics
Abstract Title: Contesting Space and Identity: mediated resistance of Chinese migrant workers’ NGO in a rural-urban continuum area.

2:00 PM Author(s): *Yimin Zhao – London School of Economics
Abstract Title: Urbanising Greenbelt in Beijing: Spatial tactics, land politics, and urban expansion


2016 LSE-PKU Summer School Course Introduction (LPS-GY201)



LSE-PKU Summer School

Beijing, 8-19 August 2016


【课程介绍】 LPS-GY201: Speculative Urbanisation in Asia



  • 大量的鬼城和空置楼盘何以出现
  • 房地产投机如何在最近/一线城市愈演愈烈
  • 北京的南锣鼓巷和新加坡的 Little India 的变迁有何异同
  • 东亚四小龙的住房政策如何彼此迥异(植根于各自的政治经济基础)
  • 如何把中国的城市问题与东亚、亚洲和全球议题加以勾连
  • “绅士化”问题的最新理论进展
  • 作为方法的比较城市主义如何加以实践……

那么本课程将能提供足够多、足够深入的理论和案例信息,并将有气氛热烈的研讨班 (seminar; 80 min/day) 作为增进讨论的有效平台。




About the summer school:

LSE and Peking University have collaboratively run the LSE-PKU Summer School in Beijing every summer since 2004. The twelfth SE-PKU Summer School will run from 8-19 August 2016. The two-week English-language international programme offers university-level courses all with a focus on China and Asia in subjects including economics, management, international relations, geography, the media, big data and NGOs.

The LSE-PKU Summer School provides a unique opportunity to learn about China from within China, but with a truly international perspective. The programme is taught in English by outstanding faculty from LSE and PKU – two of the world’s leading institutions for teaching and research.

In 2015, the LSE-PKU Summer School was attended by 283 participants from more than 50 countries across Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas, one third of whom were graduate professionals from different industries, governments and NGOs. This enriches class discussions, social events and networking opportunities.

Each course totals 48 contact hours (usually 36 hours of lectures and 12 hours of classes), and is formally assessed to allow the award of an official transcript. Whilst neither LSE nor PKU formally award credit for the programme, many previous participants have been able to receive credit from their home institutions – we are very happy to provide any information to assist with this.


Course information:

The course “Speculative Urbanisation in Asia” (LPS-GY201) explores the contemporary dynamics of urbanisation in Asia, with special emphasis on cities in China and other East and Southeast Asian economies, which share the experiences of rapid urban development with strong state intervention in the context of condensed industrialisation. The course will benefit from the geographical advantage of taking place in Beijing and make use of 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 (1) the integration of Asian cities with the global economy, (2) the distinctive characteristics of Asia’s urban development,(3) the place-specificities of state intervention in forming urban growth strategies, and (4) socio-political implications of urbanisation processes in the region.


About the Instructor:

Dr Hyun Bang Shin is an Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Studies in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dr Shin is a specialist in urban Asia. His research includes the critical analysis of the political economic dynamics of urban (re-)development and covers Asian urbanisation, urban politics, displacement and gentrification, the right to the city, and mega-events as urban spectacles.

New publications:

(2015) (eds.) Global Gentrifications: Uneven Development and Displacement. Bristol: Policy Press

(2016) Planetary Gentrification. Cambridge: Policy Press

(2016) Special issue: Locating Gentrification in the Global East. Urban Studies 53(3)