Vacant in the Chinese city

Christian Sorace and William Hurst have a new article at the JCA publisher’s website. “China’s Phantom Urbanisation and the Pathology of Ghost Cities” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2015.1115532) examines China’s “ghost cities” – build it and they will come cities – and constant urban expansion.

The article argues that behind China’s “miraculous” urbanisation story is a powerful ideological commitment to urban growth as the “royal road” to modernity and assessment of political performance.

Local governments have a wide-ranging “tool-kit” for pursuing urbanisation, ranging from administrative border-drawing to expropriation of rural land and investment in expanding urban infrastructures. Urbanisation is the destination to which all paths seem to lead. Indeed, local states pursue the construction of new urban space, even when doing so harms them financially. But why?

The concept of phantom urbanisation names the process whereby constructing the aesthetic form of the urban is even more important to local state actors than economic, demographic or environmental repercussions.

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