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This article originally appeared in the Carolina Asia Center Spring 2016 newsletter. Read the entire newsletter here.

The Carolina Asia Center invited the campus community to the FedEx Global Education Center this fall for an interdisciplinary discussion of Chinese urbanization. The day-long conference, titled “Who Decides in China’s Rapid Urbanization? An Interdisciplinary Inquiry into the New Chinese City,” featured presentations by faculty across campus and visiting faculty from Chinese universities.

Held on September 25th, 2015, the conference was primarily funded by a generous grant from the Chiang-Ching Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. Based in Taiwan, the Foundation awards grants to research projects, conferences, publications and institutions around the world promoting the study of China and Taiwan. The Foundation enabled the Carolina Asia Center and the UNC Program on Chinese Cities to collaborate in bringing scholars from Chinese universities to Chapel Hill for the conference.

The first session, “Marginal Urban Residents,” featured cutting-edge research about the fringes of urban society by Dr. Mimi Chapman of UNC’s School of Social Work and Dr. Kate Muessig of UNC’s Gillings School of Public Health. Chapman’s presentation described the experiences of low-income Shanghai residents while Dr. Muessig’s paper explored the phenomenon of straight, urban Chinese men who sell sex to men.

Another session on “Places of Employment” spotlighted a panel of experts: Dr. Yan Song of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of City and Regional Planning, Dr. Haiying Zeng from Guizhou University’s Department of Economics, and Haozhe Zhang from the Harbin Institute of Technology’s Urban Planning and Design Institute. The panelists discussed various topics concerning employment in urban China, including entrepreneurship, job access for the urban poor, and rejuvenating strategies for old industrial cities.

The conference’s final session, “Urbanization,” explored urbanization planning, decomposing and projecting urbanization, revitalizing China’s rural society, and identifying determinants of China’s urbanization.  Four scholars contributed to the session: Dr. Robin Visser of UNC’s Department of Asian Studies, Dr. Yong Cai of UNC’s Department of Sociology, Dr. Chun Zhang of Beijing Jiaotong University’s School of Architecture and Design, and Dr. Yanmei Ye, Professor and Dean of the College of Urban Land Management at Zhejiang University.

Packed with world-class scholarship and well-attended by students and faculty, this conference highlighted UNC-Chapel Hill’s central role in global studies of Chinese urbanization. The Carolina Asia Center is proud to support exceptional programs like this conference and is grateful for the support of the Chiang-Ching Kuo Foundation.


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