Xuefei Ren - Assistant Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies, Michigan State University
Professor Ren’s lecture draws upon her recent publication, Building Globalization, which closely scrutinizes the growing phenomenon of transnational architecture and its profound effect on the development of urban space. Roaming from construction sites in Shanghai to architects’ offices in Paris, Professor Ren interviews hundreds of architects, developers, politicians, residents, and activists to explore this issue. She finds that in the rapidly transforming cities of modern China, iconic designs from prestigious international architects help private developers to distinguish their projects, government officials to advance their careers, and the Chinese state to announce the arrival of modern China on the world stage. China leads the way in the globalization of architecture, a process whose ramifications can be felt from Beijing to Dubai to Basel. Connecting the dots between real estate speculation, megaproject construction, residential displacement, historical preservation, housing rights, and urban activism, Building Globalization reveals the contradictions and consequences of this new, global urban frontier. Xuefei Ren is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies at Michigan State University, and a Faculty Associate at the China Studies Center at the University of Michigan. She received her M.A. in Urban Planning from Tokyo Metropolitan University and her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Her research interests are urban governance, political economy, development, architecture, art and cultural industries. She is the author of Building Globalization: Transnational Architecture Production in Urban China (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Urban China, Gilded Age (forthcoming, Cambridge: Polity). Currently she is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, working on a large-scale project comparing the changing urban governance in China and India from the 1980s to the present.