The project Collective Forms: Neighbourhood Transformations, Spatialised Governmentality and New Communities in China has been awarded funding by the British Academy through its Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling the UK’s International Challenges Programme. The project is led by the principal investigator Dr Sam Jacoby and the co-investigators Professor Gangyi Tan (Huazhong University of Science and Technology), Professor Xuefeng He (China Rural Governance Research Centre) and Professor Yan Tang (Tsinghua University).
This research examines how social projects, spaces, and realities shape three contexts critical to understanding urban design and planning in China: modes of governmentality; the history of collective spatial development models in relation to current community development; and socio-spatial changes in urban and rural developments. A comparative analysis of community developments in China and a programme of knowledge exchange in China and the UK will study how a national collectivisation in the 1950s created rural people’s commune and urban danwei systems that laid the foundations to today’s urban problems. Their socio-spatial design, despite extensive policy reforms since 1978, continue to control access to public infrastructures and services, but also created resilient governance and community-building models. The effects of spatial transformations of governmentality are little researched by urban designers and require a new interdisciplinary approach that offers alternatives to Western-centric theory and practice. This is of global relevance, including the UK and its new community-led developments. The project will start in January 2018 and run until January 2019.