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July 1, 2022

Places for the Gods: Urban Planning as Orthopraxy and Heteropraxy in China

Abramson, Daniel Benjamin. (2011). Places for the Gods: Urban Planning as Orthopraxy and Heteropraxy in China. Environment & Planning D: Society & Space, 29(1), 67 – 88.

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Among the many revivals of older urban practices in China since the death of Mao and the Reforms of Deng Xiaoping is the resurgence of unofficial folk-religious space. As a national phenomenon, it is an uneven process, but where it has become prevalent, it presents challenges both to official standard urban-planning practice, as well as to the public presentation of planning practice. This paper describes how nonstandard practices can emerge in the current context of rapid urbanization, which itself is a force for standardized urban spatial practices in terms of Chinese domestic cultural and political institutions as well as global capital flows. Both local and translocal actors, navigating among various conflicting standards of practice and discourse, can find room to resist hegemony, maintain identity, and innovate. The political and bureaucratic ritualization of planning practice, however, conceals this fact.


Urban Planning -- Social Aspects; Urban Policy; Urbanization; Hegemony; Cultural Policy; Social Conditions In China; Social Aspects; China; Late Imperial China; Standardization; Property; Shanghai; Culture; Space; State