Detroit in China: Postindustrial Cities and Urban Representations in the Midwest and China

Project: Research project

Project Details


Detroit in China is a research and publication project that comparatively examines urban marginalization in cities in the Midwest and China. With the decline of manufacturing in the United States since the 1970s, many cities in the Midwest have become “places off the map” in today’s competitive global economy. Abandoned factories, schools, and residential districts dot the landscape of these shrinking cities. On the other side of the globe, the economy in China is booming, and China has become the biggest contender to the economic power of the United States. The spectacular urban growth in China is well documented by now; however, what often go unnoticed are the rust-belt cities in China’s hinterland. Choosing Detroit and Harbin in northeast China as fieldwork sites, this project investigates the uneven patterns of development and urban marginality in postindustrial Midwest and China. Drawing upon fieldwork interviews, policy analyses, and visual documentation, this project comparatively examines the causes, consequences, and representations of deindustrialization in the Midwest and China, as well as the current revitalization strategies launched by local governments in order to put these rust-belt cities back on the map. Debunking the myth that Detroit is unique and incomparable, this project spotlights the uneven urban development in both advanced and emerging economies under the 21st century capitalism.
Effective start/end date3/1/167/31/18


  • Michigan State University (RC106062 Northwestern//2014-03210-3)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (RC106062 Northwestern//2014-03210-3)


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.