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Picturing China in Ruins

Authors: Max Woodworth*, The Ohio State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, China, Urban Geography
Keywords: China, urbanism, ruins, photography, financialization, Anthropocene
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In recent years, the world has been captivated by the construction of so-called “ghost cities” across China. Reporters and scholars have delved into this topic at length. This talk is concerned specifically with the photographic imagery that has been central to the ghost city phenomenon. By exploring work by three Western photographers whose images of ghost cities have been vital in shaping global perceptions of China’s ghost cities, the talk considers the politics of picturing urban development in an idiom of ruins and how this visual grammar reveals the possibilities and limitations of photographic representation to spark dialogue about not just urbanization in China, but also the environment, financialization, and the Anthropocene.

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