Urban Governance and Citizen Rights in India and China


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  • Speaker: Xuefei Ren, Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies, Michigan State University
  • Host Department: ccs
  • Date: 04/01/2014
  • Time: 12:00PM

  • Location: 1636 School of Social Work Building

  • Description:
    Over the past three decades, large-scale and high-speed urbanization has posed severe governance challenges in post-liberalization India and post-socialist China. The different modes of urban development in China and India present excellent cases to theorize urban governance and citizen rights in the developing world. This talk presents research and findings from my current project on urbanization and local governance in China and India since the late nineteenth century. The project challenges the widely held notion that Chinese urban development occurs in a top-down manner because of one-Party rule, whereas Indian urban development occurs through bottom-up, or “subaltern” strategies based upon democratic contestations. Through case studies on informal settlements and land acquisitions in Delhi, Mumbai, Guangzhou, and Shanghai during the past two decades, I demonstrate how urbanization in both countries has enabled a reassembling of citizen rights with simultaneous processes of inclusion and exclusion.  In democratic India, the outcomes of urban renewal and land disputes are far from certain, as political parties use property development schemes to agitate and compete with opposition parties. In contrast, in non-democratic China, citizens are not necessarily powerless victims of dispossession, as they often mobilize the media and appeal to higher level state institutions to subvert development schemes promoted by the local state. Overall, cities in China and India have become strategic sites for the remaking of citizenship under twenty-first century capitalism.

    Xuefei Ren is Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies at Michigan State University. She received her BA in Comparative Literature, MA in Urban Planning from Tokyo Metropolitan University, and PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Her research interests are urbanization, governance, architecture and the built environment, and international development. She has published widely in urban studies journals and is the author of two books. Her first book, Building Globalization: Transnational Architecture Production in Urban China (University of Chicago Press, 2011), won the Best Book Award from the Political Economy of the World System Section and an Honorable Mention for the Robert Park Award in the Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.  Her latest book, Urban China (Polity Press, 2013), is listed as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine in 2014. She is a columnist for Thinker magazine in Beijing and has been a residential fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

    This presentation is co-sponsored by the U-M Center for South Asian Studies, organizer of the Winter Term 2014 LSA Theme Semester “India in the World.”  For more information on their scheduled events, please contact their center at 734-615-4059csas@umich.edu; or access their website at:  www.ii.umich.edu/csas.  
    Coffee, tea and light refreshments will be served.  Please come about 10 minutes early to get a good seat ~ all are welcome to attend.


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