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The New People in the People’s Republic: Protesters in Housing Disputes in Urban China, 1980-2010

Professor Qin SHAO examines urban protestors and their evolving identities by exploring what was demolished in old neighborhoods and what, besides highrises, has risen in their ruins.

Public lecture given by Professor Qin Shao on February 28, 2012.

About the project

In this project, Professor Qin Shao examines urban protestors and their evolving identities by exploring what was demolished in old neighborhoods and what, besides highrises, has risen in their ruins.

Housing reform has been at the core of China’s market economy and the country’s success. Large scale demolition and relocation in urban China has visibly improved the lives of millions, but has also left behind hidden human wreckage. Domicide, violence, corruption, and arbitrary compensation have led to heightened housing disputes and persistent protests by residents throughout Chinese cities in the past three decades.

This project examines urban protestors and their evolving identities by exploring what was demolished in old neighborhoods and what, besides highrises, has risen in their ruins. These protesters are not the conventionally perceived “movers and shakers” of the business world or the much-talked about middle class in China. Despite their victimization, they have developed a sense of empowerment through the housing struggle. They have moved and shaken the political landscape from the ground up. Based largely on oral history and with images from years of field research in China, this project addresses some of the key issues in the field of contemporary Chinese studies, such as whether today's protesters are "rights conscious" or "rule conscious." This study is part of Professor Shao’s forthcoming book, Shanghai Gone: Demolition and Defiance in a Chinese Megacity.

Bio:

Qin Shao is a Professor of History at The College of New Jersey and a visiting faculty member at UCLA. She has published on ancient Chinese statecraft, China’s early urbanization effort, the post-Mao reform in international journals and is the author of Culturing Modernity: the Nantong Model, 1890-1930. Professor Shao has received various fellowships, including those from the Humboldt University in Berlin, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her work has been presented at, among other institutes, the Harvard Law School and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. 

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