Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY) / Hunter College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2001
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
Modernity and Urban Space in the Cities of 'Manchuria'

China's transition to a market economy demands a re-configuration of its urban space. My dissertation explores how once-dominant interpretations of history are being challenged by the dialectical process of new urban planning and the appropriation of the ensuing urban spaces by its users. My proposed research is an ethnographic and historical exploration of this newly reconfigured urban space over a period of two years. I examine the recent decisions by the local governments of three former Manchurian cities -Harbin, Changchun, and Dalian -to protect and renovate colonial-era architecture. These decisions have startling effects for both Northeast China's self-understanding and that of the former colonial power of Japan: they provide, respectively, a critique of the Cultural Revolution and the founding myth of "postwar'' Japan. I plan a combination of ethnographic observation of selected sites, formal and informal interviews with the shapers (planners, architects, professors, local historians and local government officials) and users of urban space (local residents and visitors), and archival research. I seek to discover the mechanisms through which the tabooed or silenced pasts (the Cultural Revolution for China and imperialism for Japan) resurface in the new urban spaces to confront and confound the present. My dissertation thus focuses on the three former Manchurian cities as examples of the space where China's post-coloniality and what we can call Japan's post-imperiality converge in unexpected ways as a result of their new economic relations.