Metropolitan History seminar
23 November 2011
Urbanising China in war and peace, Wuxi 1911-1945
Toby Lincoln (Centre for Urban History, Leicester)

Wuxi (Wikipedia)


Toby Lincoln examines Wuxi at the beginning of the twentieth century asking questions of its urban development, its composition as a city, and the effect of Japanese occupation in the 1930s.  Wuxi is an urban region in China.  Lincoln argues that Wuxi underwent a large expansion led by a modern capitalist drive, migration, and demonstration of state political power.  The occupation of the city by the Japanese led to a rebuilding of Wuxi that reflects surprising continuity and in so doing reveals the limits of Japanese occupation in the region.

Lincoln tells us that urbanisation is a long-term trend in China and that the interconnection between urban and rural landscapes demonstrates variances in lifestyle and practices.  Sometimes, urbanisation is seen in China as the effect of a decadent foreign imposition on traditional Chinese lifestyles whilst in other occasions it is viewed as Chinese progression.  Lincoln’s focus is on the overlapping geographies of Wuxi.  These are used as a way into the subject – focused on spatial understandings of flexible borders and connections between spaces.

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