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Accepted Paper:

Promises and realities of infrastructure in urbanising China  
Jialing Luo (Sichuan University)

Short abstract:

The research examines the transformative effects of infrastructure development on the outskirts of a Chinese metropolis. It explores the disjunction between the promises and realities of infrastructure in terms of “infrastructural imagination” and a high-modernist vision of development.

Long abstract:

Wangcun was a peri-urban village located to the east of Chengdu, the metropolis of western China. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Wangcun was demolished to make way for the construction of two mega-projects: the 3rd Ring Road of a complex intra-city transportation system and the Chengdu East Railway Station, a crucial node in the nationwide high-speed rail network. Behind the state-led infrastructure development is a broader picture of China’s planned urbanisation as an engine for continued economic growth and modernisation. Consequently, Wangcun and its neighbouring villages were transformed into urban neighbourhoods within a very short time span. The former villagers of Wangcun were resettled into a newly-built residential compound on the old site. While they now enjoy improved living conditions, some of the new urbanites face challenges. Having previously relied on agricultural land, they lack the education, skills, and experience necessary for urban employment. Additionally, local mobility poses inconvenience, as their compound is sandwiched between the two parallel mega-projects - designed primarily for automobile and train travelers, rather than pedestrians and cyclists. The promise of infrastructure (cf. Appel, Anand & Gupta 2018; Harvey & Knox 2012) does not seem to bring better opportunities as locals anticipated. Rather, potential tensions between the goals of national advantage and those of local community appear to emerge. Drawing on in-depth fieldwork, this research critically engages with theories of “infrastructural imagination” (Jackson et al. 2007) and a high-modernist vision of development (Scott 1998).

Traditional Open Panel P106
The promises and fractures of infrastructures: infrastructural imaginaries and the realities of our built world
  Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -