Professor Si-ming Li

Polarization, Fragmentation and Resilience: Four Urban Contexts Compared

Funding period: 1 January 2016 – 31 December 2017
Type of funding: Seminar Series

Seminar series organised by Professor Si-ming Li (Hong Kong Baptist University).

The seminars will be conducted during a three-day conference at the Hong Kong Baptist University, 29 November-1 December 2017.

Generations of scholars from a variety of disciplines have tried to unravel the nature, form and implications of segregation.Today, while voluntary segregation of the privileged and affluent is underscored by proliferating suburban gated communities and gentrified inner-city neighbourhoods, involuntary segregation of the disadvantaged in the forms of ghettos, squatter settlements and urbanising villages persists in both developed and developing countries. In today’s globalising world, situated and variegated modalities of segregation in both the Global North and Global South deserve equal attention.

The proposed seminar series represents an international collaboration to conduct comparative analysis on the nature and manifestations of such urban socio-spatial polarisation, fragmentation and segregation in USA, South Africa, Hong Kong and mainland China, with a view to identifying policy initiatives to enhance urban resilience. Specific objectives include:

  • Investigating the impacts of economic restructuring on access to and quality of employment, with an emphasis on the global trajectories of the above four urban contexts and the different experiences of polarisation and fragmentation that have resulted.
  • Identifying the distinct racial and ethnic dimensions that affect access to housing and employment, such as: in-migration from mainland China in Hong Kong; rapid urbanization in mainland China under hukou discrimination; migration of Black South Africans into Cape Town and Pretoria since the end of Apartheid; and the changing patterns of racial segregation and international in-migration in Atlanta, in the context of state policies including migration, housing and employment policies that either exacerbate or moderate polarisation and fragmentation.
  • Distinguishing the nature and extent of urban resilience in coping with problems of polarisation and fragmentation.

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