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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Rooms 8 & 9, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Event date: 
Wednesday, 31 October, 2018 - 17:00 to 18:30

Building AnshanChina Research Seminar Series talk given by Hirata Koji, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

This paper examines how industrial enterprises and ordinary people participated in construction of cities in the early years of the People’s Republic of China, especially between 1952 and 1957. Much of the past scholarly literature on urban planning in the early PRC focused on the state bureaucracy. By contrast, I explore how urban-planning policies were implemented at the ground level, by focusing on the case of Anshan—a major industrial city in Manchuria (Northeast China) that had previously been constructed as a Japanese colonial city prior to 1945.To examine the construction and reconstruction of this steel city, Idraw upon a wide range of newly available sources, including interviews, local newspapers, official municipal histories, and confidential government reports.This paper begins with a brief overview of the establishment of the PRC city-planning bureaucracy, which is followed by a discussion of the process and outcomes of urban construction. The paper then discusses the population movement to Anshan from the countryside, and how this contributed to issues of housing shortages in the city.Altogether, this reexamination of the Chinese urban political economy demonstrates that local-level negotiations among various actors, including lower-level officials, enterprise managers, and even migrant workers, lay at the heart of urban construction in Mao-era China.

Koji Hirata is a Junior Research Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. He has a Ph.D. in East Asian history from Stanford University. His current book project, Steel Metropolis: Industrial Manchuria and the Making of Chinese Socialism, 1916–1975, draws on archival documents from China, Japan, Russia, and the United States to chronicle the transformation of a single industrial city in Manchuria (Northeast China), Anshan, as a microcosm of Chinese society before and under Maoism.

Professor Hans van de Ven FBA: