Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, vol. 1, no. 1 (2012)


Territoriality and Space Production in China

Editor’s Introduction
Guest Editor You-tien Hsing (University of California, Berkeley), 1

Analyses of the local state in China in the past three decades have made a major contribution to the theorization of the state. … [W]e have learned that the local state can no longer be treated as a passive agent, subordinate to the principality of the central state …. A growing number of studies on the unprecedented pace and scale of urban expansion in China since the 1980s have been undertaken in parallel with the theorization of the local state. … The key role of the local state is made plain in this body of research, as most changes are invariably dominated by the state and its policies.

In this special issue, we take this direction of investigation further and try to bridge the studies of the state and the studies of the city by employing the concepts of space production and territoriality. … The notion of civic territoriality brings society to the center of territorial politics and puts territoriality at the root of collective actions. … [A]uthors in this special issue present their studies of China’s territorial politics in three interrelated directions: territorial order and state power, territorialization of capital, and civic territoriality.

The papers in this print issue are selected from the inaugural issue of the Cross Currents e-journal published in December 2011. Readers are encouraged to find the complete set of papers with color images online at

State Capacity in City Planning: The Reconstruction of Nanjing, 1927–1937
Carmen Tsui (City University of Hong Kong), 12

After reunifying China in 1927, the Nationalist government proposed a comprehensive planning proposal, the Capital Plan (shoudu jihua), to reconstruct the war-torn city of Nanjing into a modern capital, despite the fact that the infant republic was still threatened by internal strife and external aggression. This article discusses the complex politics involved in the reconstruction of Nanjing from 1927 to 1937, illustrating the way in which the Nationalist state tried to transform China’s urban development. It focuses on why unified planning ideas could not be generated during the planning process, and why these ideas did not turn fully into practice during the implementation process. By studying the aborted effort in planning Nanjing, knowing in what particular dimensions the state excelled and in what other dimensions things went wrong, this article analyzes the unevenness of state capacity in Republican China.

Production of Space and Space of Production:
High-Tech Industrial Parks in Beijing and Shanghai

Jenn-hwan Wang, (National Chengchi University) and
Tse-Kang Leng (National Chengchi University and Academia Sinica), 47

The development of high-tech industrial parks (HTIPs) has become a salient phenomenon in China’s economic and urban development. Current studies regarding the development of HTIPs tend to focus either on the active role of the local government or on the consequences of technological innovation that those parks may have brought about. Very few studies have paid attention to the intrinsic relationship between the process of space production in building HTIPs and the effect on urban development. To fill this theoretical gap, this article considers developing HTIPs as a territorial project through which both central and local states seek to promote economic growth by reorganizing their territories so as to facilitate capital accumulation based on building high-tech industrial parks. The authors use Beijing’s Zhongguancun and Shanghai’s Yangpu areas as examples to show the active role played by district governments in promoting and using the symbol of “high tech” to develop industrial estates. In the end, due to the HTIPs’ quick tax-generating potentiality, their construction has given rise to commodity housing and commercial projects that district governments are much more enthusiastic to pursue. The property-led high-tech development projects have paradoxically generated a negative impact on sustainable high-tech development.

Frontier Boomtown Urbanism in Ordos, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
Max D. Woodworth (University of California, Berkeley), 74

Ordos Municipality, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, has emerged as one of China’s wealthiest places, with an economy driven by massive expansion of the local coal industry. This essay examines how this formerly poor region has experienced breakneck urban growth, becoming a resource-driven frontier boomtown. The frontier boomtown urbanism of Ordos highlights the impulse toward urban construction of the periphery that aspires to catch up with the metropolitan center and to articulate its own centrality through such urbanity.

Amis Aborigine Migrants’ Territorialization in Metropolitan Taipei
Jin-Yung Wu (National Taiwan University), 102

This paper focuses on the relatively successful experience of territorialization by a group of aborigine migrants in metropolitan Taipei, northern Taiwan. The aborigine migrants of the Amis established a self-built community in a marginal site along the riverbank of northern Taipei that was constantly under the threat of floods and eviction and forced relocation by the government. But eventually the settlers and the government came to an agreement regarding on-site relocation, and the municipal authority granted special land use rights to the settlers. Several historical processes help explain their success. First, the rising political discourse of Taiwan Independence in the past decade has provided the aborigine migrants with political legitimacy and support. Second, Taiwan’s social activism has been developing rapidly since the 1990s, as its electoral democracy takes shape and matures; the aborigine migrants’ rights to the city were an integral part of this social mobilization. Third, the reinforced identity and solidarity within the community in question helped form a coherent front at the moment of confrontation and negotiation with the government. Finally, a group of professional and progressive planners have been actively involved throughout the territorialization process, acting as planners, brokers and coordinators.

The Past and Future of the Gaihōzu (Japanese Imperial Maps)

Editor’s Introduction
Guest Editor Kären Wigen (Stanford University), 132

The spatial turn of recent years has brought a number of novel landscapes into focus for scholars of East Asia. [One such] frontier—the domain of imperial cartography—undergirds the present collection of articles. … No longer read solely for locational data (or evaluated in terms of scientific accuracy), maps are increasingly seen as cultural artifacts that bear on a wide spectrum of social and political problems. … [C]urious scholars from across the disciplines are turning their attention to historical maps. In the process, cartographic archives from Siam to Siberia are coming into public view. One of the latest such archives to make its way into the public domain is the corpus of Japanese military and imperial maps known as gaihōzu (外邦図), or “maps of outer lands.” …

The articles featured here grew out of an international symposium on the gaihōzu held at Stanford University in October 2011 [after the] discovery that Stanford is among the half dozen universities in the United States to harbor an as-yet uncatalogued collection of Japanese military maps. … [Keynote speaker Shigeru Kobayashi’s] address—to our knowledge, the first comprehensive introduction to the gaihōzu in English—is the lead article in this [section]. Offering a magisterial overview of the surviving collections, as well as a deeply informed discussion of the chief institutions and procedures through which the main subsets of these maps were produced, Shigeru Kobayashi’s essay lays essential groundwork for the essays that follow. The remaining articles … showcase the utility of outer-lands maps for East Asian history [with] a suggestive pair of case studies. Each takes up a different subset of maps in pursuit of a fundamentally different problem.

Given the increasing visibility of spatial questions across the disciplines, as well as new developments on the digital front, one can easily imagine them assuming a more prominent role in the colonial archive of the future. It is the editors’ hope that this issue of Cross-Currents may advance that prospect in some modest way.

Japanese Mapping of Asia-Pacific Areas, 1873–1945: An Overview
Shigeru Kobayashi (Osaka University), 137

Japanese mapping in the Asia-Pacific region up to 1945 calls for scrutiny, because its development was a multifaceted process with military, administrative, political, and cultural dimensions. This article traces the changes in Japanese mapping of overseas areas to the end of World War II and assesses the significance of the resulting maps, called gaihōzu, as sources for East Asian history. As implements of military operation and colonial administration, the gaihōzu were produced during a protracted period by various means under changing circumstances. Expanding military activity also promoted differentiation among the gaihōzu by increasing the use of maps originally produced in foreign countries. In conclusion, the need for detailed cataloging, in combination with chronologically arranged index mapping, is emphasized for the systematic use of the gaihōzu.

Imagining Manmō: Mapping the Russo-Japanese Boundary Agreements in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, 1907–1915
Yoshihisa Tak Matsusaka (Wellesley College), 172

This study attempts to delineate the boundaries of the spheres of interest in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia established under the Russo-Japanese accords of 1907 and 1912. Although the agreements are well known, there have been few efforts to reconstruct these spheres cartographically. Two existing maps offer contradictory interpretations. These partition agreements had a major impact on diplomacy, railway policy, and strategic planning during the decade they held force between 1907 and 1916, and the precise location of the Russo-Japanese sphere boundaries in this contested region was a matter of no small consequence. The author proposes a revised boundary map based on an examination of textual and cartographic sources, including maps produced by the army command of the Kwantung government-general. At the same time, the author seeks to highlight the potential value of cartographic analysis as a mode of historical inquiry into the record of Japanese imperialism. Cartography was an indispensable tool for modern empire builders in bringing a measurable territoriality to their realms and making their lands and subjects politically legible. The mapping entailed in these boundary agreements was important not only in bilateral diplomacy but also in enhancing the legibility of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia to Japanese imperialists themselves.

Triangulating Chōsen: Maps, Mapmaking, and the Land Survey in Colonial Korea
David Fedman (Stanford University), 205

Drawing from an assortment of government reports, contemporary publications, and cartographic materials, this article examines the triangulation survey conducted by the Japanese government-general in Korea from 1910 to 1918. In addition to elucidating the mapmaking process, it explores the ways in which the triangulation survey both reflected and promoted Japan’s colonial authority in Korea and abroad. By turns, the author provides a broad sketch of the planning and implementation of the survey, considers the tools and techniques that enabled it, traces the progress of the triangulation enterprise, and dwells on the legacy and limitations of the maps brought about by the triangulation survey.

Review Essays

Of Leaders and Governance: How the Chinese Dragon Got Its Scales
Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China, by Ezra F. Vogel
Reviewed by Timothy Cheek (University of British Columbia), 235

History in China’s Urban Post-Modern
The Great Urban Transformation: Politics of Land and Property in China, by You-tien Hsing and In Search of Paradise: Middle-Class Living in a Chinese Metropolis, by Li Zhang
Reviewed by Helen F. Siu (Yale University), 245

Chinese Approaches to Ethnic Diversity
Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China, by Thomas S. Mullaney and Law, Policy, and Practice on China’s Periphery: Selective Adaptation and Institutional Capacity, by Pitman B. Potter
Reviewed by Robert P. Weller (Boston University), 259

Comments are closed.