Seminar 21 February 2024 @4-5:30pm: What happens after displacement? Exploring the contested reterritorialization of resettled residents in urban China

Published: 15 February 2024

Speaker: Zheng Wang, King's College London.

Location: 6 The Square 230 (G30), University of Glasgow.
And online with registration at:

Abstract:  The resettlement of residents has become an ubiquitous phenomenon across the globe. For instance, in urban China, tens of millions of residents have been resettled over the past three decades in the country’s efforts of urbanisation. In the process, residents are resettled to state-developed relocation settlements which now form a significant part of Chinese urban peripheries. Although there is common agreement that more studies are needed to illuminate the ‘post-displacement’ lives of residents, there are many aspects in need of research ranging from the material livelihood of residents to regaining their sense of belonging. In this sense, more elaborations are needed to make sense of what ‘post-displacement’ actually entails and what aspects of the post-resettlement life one should pay attention to. This study examines the lives of resettled residents in China’s relocation settlements and specifically focuses on illuminating the processes and practices involved in the reterritorialization of resettled residents. Counter to existing interpretations of reterritorialization as a state-led and top-down process, this study conceptualises reterritorialization as a contested process which involves both state-led practices that try to render resettled residents and spaces more governable as well as resident-led reterritorialization practices in order regain a sense of belonging and exert influence over the new space they inhabit. In particular, I will draw on three examples of reterritorialization practices led by either the state, the residents and a collaboration between state and residents. Through the three examples, I aim to add to the conceptualisation of reterritorialization and its applicability to researching the post-resettlement life of residents.

Speaker bio: Zheng Wang is a lecturer in sustainable cities at the Department of Geography, King’s College London. Zheng is an urban geographer specialising in the politics and social consequences of urban (re)development. This includes identifying and explaining the variegated processes underpinning the development of mega urban projects, and the social outcomes and possibilities that arise as a result. His work takes urban China as a critical site to develop theoretical insights for a more global urban studies. He was the recipient of the RTPI Early Career Award 2017 and has published in journals including Dialogues in Human geography, Antipode, Environment and Planning A, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and Urban Studies. His research has been funded by the British Academy and the Economic and Social Research Council. Zheng’s latest ESRC New Investigator funded research project examines the long-term social impacts and community rebuilding efforts of mega urban projects in urban China.


The Scottish Centre for China Research is grateful for the support of the MacFie Bequest for its seminar series.

For further information, contact Professor Jane Duckett <>

First published: 15 February 2024

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