The field of international development studies must evolve to stay on top of the many changes affecting the world of today. This second lecture of a lecture series about the future of international development will be given by George Lin, Chair Professor of Geography and Associate Dean (Research) of Social Sciences in the University of Hong Kong. He will talk about China’s state power reshuffling, land commodification, uneven urbanization and the need to reconsider current urbanization theory.
Prevailing theories of urban transformation under globalization describe the uneven growth of cities and urbanization as the spatial outcome of either the functioning of intrinsic agglomeration economies or the intrusion of global neoliberal market forces. However, the phenomenal urban transformation taking place in China over recent two decades shows a different picture. George Lin addresses China’s continuing urban transformation and notes that it was mainly driven by land development and actively pursued by Chinese municipal governments to contest with state power reshuffling in the era of neoliberalization.
Contemporary Chinese urban transformation is characterized by a juxtaposition of dual-tracked or two-waved urbanization: a spontaneous, widespread, and bottom-up rural industrialization and urbanization throughout the 1980s superimposed by a city-centered, land-based, and top-down urban expansion since the 1990s. Urbanization has been actively pursued and practiced more as a political strategy than a passive outcome of economic growth derived from the agglomeration economies. Land commodification, rather than human capital or advanced technology, has been instrumental to the growth and transformation of Chinese cities. What is the exact role of the social and political actors in these processes? How is the market involved? And what are the economic, social, and geographical consequences? One thing is clear: theorization of global urbanism needs to go beyond the Euro-American comfort zone and take seriously alternative practices and struggles found in the global South.
This lecture is part of the lecture series "International Development Studies: Prospects and Vistas" and co-hosted by the Centre for Urban Studies.
George C.S. Lin is Chair Professor of Geography and Associate Dean (Research) of Social Sciences in the University of Hong Kong. His research interests include China’s urban development and urbanization, land use and land management, and the growth of urbanism in emerging economies of the global south. He has been identified as among the top 50 most cited economic geographers in the English-speaking world over the recent half a century according to age-weighted Scopus h-index and one of the top 1% scholars according to ISI’s Essential Science Indicators ever since 2009.
Respondent Jan Nijman is a Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He spent more than two decades of his professional career in the United States and has over 15 years of research experience in India. His expertise is in urban theory and comparative urbanism with special interests in Amsterdam, Miami, and Mumbai.
The field of international development studies must evolve to stay on top of the many changes affecting the world of today. Such changes challenge the traditional divide between the ‘South’ and ‘North’ as well as the types of issues that need to be addressed. What do they mean for our understanding and the practice of development? This public lecture series, organized by the Governance and Inclusive Development group of the University of Amsterdam, aims to find answers to these questions and stimulate new thinking. By including presentations by key thinkers from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the series seeks to highlight southern perspectives on new development issues.