Rural-Urban Margins on the Central Plains: Zhengzhou, Kaifeng and the Henan Hinterland, 1890 to 1954


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants




The foundational argument of this dissertation is that cities cannot be studied in isolation from each other or from their hinterlands. It first uncovers the changing relationship between two cities in Henan: the booming railway town of Zhengzhou and the more sedately-growing administrative seat of Kaifeng. The project then asks the key discursive and material questions of rural-urban relations in modern China. It explores how rural areas were imagined in city discourse, before examining the effects of railroad construction, urban growth and commercialization on the urban fringe and in the immediate rural hinterland of these two cities. Putting these issues in local context suggests that the rural-urban divide in modern China was less clear-cut than has usually been thought.