China Beat Archive


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March 23, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright March 23, 2008 Kate Merkel-Hess. Used by permission.


I recently received two new travel books (of sorts) in my mailbox, one of which I wrote a few short bits for. Beijing Time by Michael Dutton, with Hsiu-ju Stacy Lo and Dong Dong Wu, (due out in May from Harvard University Press) andUrbanatomy: Shanghai 2008, edited by Nick Land (published by China Intercontinental Press in 2007) fall at opposite ends of a rather loosely envisioned “travel book” spectrum, but both promise an on-the-ground look at “new” China.

Beijing Time, by Goldsmiths, University of London Professor of Politics Michael Dutton and independent scholars Hsiu-ju Stacy Lo and Dong Dong Wu (the advance copy I read did not clarify how research and writing was split between them), is a theory-driven investigation of Beijing as both location and symbol. The authors explore Beijing through layout and buildings, investigating how Beijingers interact with their city’s built environment, and asking, ultimately, what that interaction says about the city’s (and by extension, China’s) past and future.