International Development Planning Review

China's pre-reform urban transformation: the case of Hangzhou during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)

International Development Planning Review (2014), 36, (2), 181–203.

Abstract

This paper examines the socio-spatial transformation of China during Mao's Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Through the lens of political rationales, government programmes, strategies and expertise and knowledge, this study explores Hangzhou's socio-spatial transformation and the dynamics between the societal and spatial dimensions during the Cultural Revolution. It investigates urban restructuring and population changes, public spaces, signature and special structures, residential buildings, parks and gardens in the city. The research attempts to interpret the perplexing relations between socio-political programmes and spatial projects on the ground. The paper argues that urban development continued under a heroic and revolutionary political agenda, even when urban planning as a discipline was removed during the societal disorder. Urban transformation was characterised by the duality of utopian and revolutionary ideals as well as pragmatic and economised approaches in practice. Utopian communist aspirations and urban development pragmatism together drove urban transformation in which chaotic and uneasy socio-spatial consequences were felt.

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Qian, Zhu