Panel Title:

Reflexive Economic Geographies and China Studies: a Dialogue

Organized by You-tien Hsing (UC Berkeley)

Panel Description:

What are the promises and dilemma of reflexive geographies, defined as a collective yet diverse effort of de-naturalizing theory and discipline production?  What is the methodological implication of such promises and dilemma? How do recent cultural turns of economic geography inspire and set limits on geographical imagination?  If ambiguous, partial and often contradictory comprehension is the most one can realistically hope for from reflexive geographies, as concluded by some reflexive geographers, how does such reflexivity shed lights on the controversies over Area Studies that have been seen as being too narrow for theory building, and too scattered for argument making?

China today offers a geographical and historical opportunity for us to examine these questions, and to experiment with innovative research approaches and projects.  China has been one of the fastest changing societies of a similar scale, diversity and global aspiration.  The reconfiguration of the relationship between the Chinese state, market and society has posed great challenges to and generated new interpretations by scholars in social sciences and humanities.  China scholars in and outside of China have established an expansive research infrastructure that started to redraw the map and boundaries of China scholarship in the past two-three decades, which also has significant implications in the policy worlds and discourses.  While China offers research possibilities, the production of China knowledge is complex and contentious.  

At this panel, we hope to initiate a dialogue between reflexive economic geographers and China geographers.  We feel that the second Global Economic Geography Conference in Beijing provides a meaningful and timely platform for this exercise.  In addition to the larger issue of the interaction between reflexive economic geography and China studies, we also hope to talk about something more programmatic, such as research topics concerning the crossroad of gender/race, culture/economy, and culture/nature in and of China; the possibilities of balancing between critical commentaries and grounded ethnographies; the methodologies and strategies of information gathering, processing, interpretation, and presentation in and of China. 

Our panelists are:

Trevor Barnes  (University of British Columbia)

Cindy Fan (UCLA)

You-tien Hsing (UC Berkeley)

George C.S. Lin (University of Hong Kong)

Weidong Liu (Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Science)

Laurence Ma (Larry: what would you prefer to use as your affiliation?)

James Sidaway (University of Plymouth)