Postcolonial Asian cities (2013-2014)

Contact Person: Christian Hess (*4047;

Other members:
James Farrer (, David Wank (, Bettina Gramlich-Oka (
Further members include Linda Grove, Jon Howlett (Univeristy of York, UK), Toby Lincoln (University of Leicester, UK), Jenifer Robinson (UCL), Maurizio Marinelli (University of Technology Sydney), Caroline Cartier (Univeristy of Technology Sydney), Miriam Kingsberg (University of Colorado), Tong Lam (Univeristy of Toronto), Jeff Wasserstrom (University of California, Irvine), Liu Haiyan (Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences), Wang Min (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences), John Carroll (University of Hong Kong)

Goals and Purpose:
This project aims to create an interdisciplinarynetwork of scholars researching the topic of postcolonial Asian cities. Specifically we are interested in exploring the ways in which colonial and imperial pasts are used to justify or challenge urban development schemes,heritage politics, and issues of urban identity in the growing urban centers of Asia. Globalization and the city in Asia is fast becoming an established scholarly sub field, and we would be interested in refining this scholarship by examining the extent to which a city’s colonial past aids or hampers its global aspirations. At the heart of such inquiry is a more nuanced picture of the complex relationship between global forces, nation-states, and local society in an era of rapid urbanization.

One of the most exciting aspects of this subfield isits interdisciplinary potential. Real opportunity exists for meaningful intellectual dialog between historians, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers and urban studies specialists. The project will contribute to this growing interdisciplinary scholarship by including participants from various fields and working at institutions in Japan, China, US, UK and Australia. The initial activity will focus largely on Chinese cities (including Hong Kong) with the aim of bringing in more comparative cases from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and the Philippines in subsequent years.

This research unit's activities in 2014

This research Unit's activities in 2015


Events and activities in 2013

・Workshop (Closed to public) / Oct. 30, 2013
This was an opportunity for members of the project to meet and discuss current and future plans with a key North American partner, Jeffrey Wasserstrom. Project members briefly introduce their planned contributions for a conference volume. In addition, the workshop had two major organizational goals. We worked together to identify scholars working in Japan, China, North America and the UK whose work we feel would contribute to our collective research. We also discussed an action plan for the next several years in terms of collective funding strategies for a large international conference and publication.

・Public Lecture / Oct. 31, 2013
Angry Ghosts: 1900's Boxer Crisis as Global History by Dr. Jeff Wasserstrom
Now this talk is onlinle. Watch it HERE:

・Public Lecture / Dec. 12, 2013
Urbanizing China in War and Peace: Wuxi County, 1911-1945 by Dr. Toby Lincoln
Now this talk is onlinle. Watch it HERE:

・Research, Publications and Conference participation

Christian A. Hess, “Living the socialist high life? Colonial legacies and the making of urban socialism in Dalian, 1945-1955” Paper presented at the conference “New Perspectives on the Chinese 1950s” at the University of York (UK), July 19-21, 2013.

Christian A. Hess, “Habitability and the socialist city.” Paper presented at the international conference “The Habitable City: Chinese Urban History in a Global Context” held at the University of Leicester, April 12-14, 2013

Christian A. Hess, 从殖民港口到社会主义大都市:帝国遗产和新大连的崛起(From Colonial Port to Socialist Metropolis: Imperialism and the Making of New Dalian) 城市史研究 Urban History Research 29 (September 2013): 271-292.

Christian A. Hess, “Revolutionary Real Estate: Envisioning Space in Communist Dalian” in J. Cook, J. Goldstein, and S. Schmalzer, eds., Visualizing China: Image, History and Memory in China, 1750-Present (Lexington, forthcoming, May 2014).