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The Roots of Local Territorial Control: Housing Privatization and Enterprise Reform in the 1980s and 1990s

Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies presents Meg Rithmire as part of the New England China Seminar.

February 1, 2012 5:15pm to 9:00pm

Meg Rithmire, Harvard Business School

Why are some local governments able to consolidate control over urban territory and some are not? Drawing on a paired comparison of two cities—Dalian and Harbin in the Northeast—Professor Rithmire investigates variation in land politics in initially similar cities. Dalian, benefitting from early access to foreign capital, consolidated control over urban territory by first segregating the new and old economies, then later introducing dual pressures for enterprises and their workers to restructure and relocate. Harbin, facing capital shortages, treated urban territory as a resource for distribution to assuage losers of reform by privatizing housing and encouraging enterprises to diversify their economic activities. As a result, officials in Harbin struggle with long-time claimants to urban land, while Dalian's local government has consolidated control over the city's territory.

Meg Rithmire is assistant professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. She earned her PhD in government from Harvard University in 2011. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation on urban land politics in China from the early 1980s through the present. From 2007 through 2008, she conducted fieldwork in northeast China on a Fulbright fellowship, and she was a visiting scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing in 2009

Dinner Option
We welcome participants who wish to attend both sessions of the New England China Seminar to join colleagues for a buffet dinner at 6:30-7:30 pm, in Room S030. The dinner cost is $15 per person ($10 for students). Due to space limitations, we will accept 30 reservations on a first come first serve basis. Advance reservation and payment is required. Please register by clicking here before noon on Thursday, January 26, 2012.

Lecture by Terry Sicular

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