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Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Overview

Dr Amy Yueming Zhang is a Lecturer in Urban Planning at the University of Manchester. Her research focuses on urban politics and governance, urban knowledge and policy mobilities, postcolonial urban theory, and state-society relations of China. Amy’s current and previous work has looked into urban political economy of arts and creativity as well as land commodification in Chinese cities. Her research has been funded by the British Academy, IJURR Foundation, and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and has appeared in Urban Geography, Urban Studies, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Geoforum. She contributes to teaching in the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in urban planning.

Biography

Amy joined the University of Manchester as a Lecturer in Urban Planning in October 2019. Prior to Manchester, she worked as a Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham (2017-2019) and as an Adjunct Teaching Professor in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2016). She holds a PhD in geography from the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University (2016) and a MPhil in geography from the Department of Geography at The University of Hong Kong (2012).

Research interests

My research focuses on two interlinked themes: First, I am interested in understanding how intertwined global and local political economic processes and dynamics shape urban transformations. Second, engaging with postcolonial urban theories’ emphasis on decentering the production of and diversifying the sources of urban knowledge, through my research, I endeavour to position urban China as one of many sources of urban knowledge and theories rather than just being a destination for applying theories.

My current and previous research executes these two themes through four research areas:

  • Political economy of urban land and built environment, particularly political economic dynamics underlying post-industrial urban redevelopment and the roles played by historical and material elements in such processes.
  • Urban configurations of art worlds: urban places produced by/for arts; arts’ and artists’ roles in producing knowledge and understandings of the urban.
  • Policy mobilities, particularly in Asia: how policies initiated in other contexts are brought to, learned by, altered, and adopted in Asian cities; manifestations and effects of intra-Asia learning and policy mobilities.
  • Relational understandings of places: the power relations and negotiations in producing, framing, consuming, and contesting urban places.

Research Projects

Urban politics of online influencing: urban influencing, influencing the urban (funded by SEED Strategic Research Support Funds 2021-2022)

In collaboration with Dr Carwyn Morris (Leiden University) and Dr Asa Roast (School of Geography, University of Leeds), I am currently developing and working on a project examining the rise of "internet celebrity (wanghong) urbanism", a consumption and production of the urban facilitated through digital platforms, and its associated urban politics and political economy.

In this project, we focus on how user-generated content and online influencing through social media platforms produce digital spectacle and generate urban desires, aspirations, and imaginaries, and what kind of material, political, and economic effects are created in turn. We examine issues of digitally mediated experience and consumption of urban spaces, the (re)production of urban spaces influenced by mass production of digital content, the intersection between urban entrepreneurialism and wanghong urbanism, and the roles of social media platform companies in the production and consumption of digital and urban spectacle.

An early discussion of our observations and thoughts about this phenomenon is available (open access) on the Chaoyang Trap newsletter: “We Built this City on a Camera Roll“.

A longer form of discussion on the phenomenon of wanghong urbanism, what the term captures, and what implications it generates is published in Mediapolis.

We have also organized a workshop in relation to this project on “Urban-digital spectacle: Spectacle, urban space and digital platforms”, supported by SEED Strategic Research Support Funds 2021-2022 and PEM Research Support Grant 2021-2022. A flyer about the event can be found here.

Temporary/pop-up creative uses in Beijing (funded by British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant)

My current research examines the adoption of temporary/pop-up creative uses for urban regeneration in Beijing’s historic Dashilar area. In this research, I focus on how intertwined global-local political economic processes shape the choice and implementation of this urban regeneration strategy, how the district government enacts its role as a local entrepreneurial state, and how local residents as well as the “creative participants” perceive this strategy and changes in the neighborhood.

Arts distrits in China (funded by IJURR Foundation Studentships within the field of urban and regional studies)

My PhD dissertation research (2014-2016) examines disused industrial compounds being turned into art spaces and being institutionalized as official arts districts in two Chinese cities, Beijing and Chongqing. This research explores the roles of artists and arts in shaping urban spaces in order to provide a window onto the political economic dynamics underlying China’s transforming urban landscape and state-society relations of China.

Land commodification in China (funded by Dissertation Fellowship, Peking University-Linconln Institute of Land Policy)

My Mphil dissertation research (2009-2011) focuses on the impacts and politics of China’s land-centered municipal fiscal structure that came into existence following the tax reform in 1992. In particular, I examined the relationship between different arrangements on the division of land transaction incomes between Beijing municipal government and district governments and Beijing’s land transactions and urban land expansion patterns for the period of 1996-2008.

Qualifications

PhD, Geography, Clark University, August 2016

MPhil, Geography, The University of Hong Kong, November 2012

Bachelor of Management, Urban and Regional Management, Peking University, July 2009

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

Fellow, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Member, American Association of Geographers

Opportunities

I would be happy to hear from potential PhD students with interests in the following areas and topics:

  • Political economy of urban land and built environment
  • Politics of urban regeneration in the “creative” and “smart” era
  • Policy mobilities and the production of urban knowledge
  • Place-making
  • Understandings and practices of creativity
  • The intersection of art and the city / the urban
  • Postcolonial and comparative urban research

Current PhD students:

Haoyue Guo, 'Exploring the Impact of Artistic Place-making Practices for Rural-urban Migrant Children’s Sense of Belonging and Place Attachment in China’s Urban Villages in Shenzhen', Department of Geography, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester (co-supervision with Dr Saskia Warren and Dr Alison Browne)

Xinye Xiao, 'Green Gentrification in China Caused by Urban Regeneration' (co-supervision with Professor Ian Mell)

Ana Kashfi Muhamad, 'The Interplay of Architecture in the Complex Urban Fabric of Town Centres' (co-supervision with Dr Philip Black)

Shuying Du, 'Towards a New Model of Chinese Art Township Construction in Rural Revitalisation Policy? Analysing Reverse Urbanisation and the Remodeling of Place and Cultural Heritage in China's Countryside' Department of Geography, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester (co-supervision with Dr Saskia Warren)

Graduated PhD student:

Alisa Hongthong, 2022, 'Appropriate Residential Sites Environment for the Elderly in Baan Pong Nuea Sub-District Municipality of the Hang Dong District in Chiang Mai Province', School of Geography, Earth and Enviromental Sciences, University of Birmingham (co-supervision with Professor Pat Noxolo and Dr Lloyd Jenkins)

Teaching

For 2023-2024 academic year, I contribute to teaching in the following course units:

  • PLAN10041 Introduction to Planning and Development (course unit director)
  • PLAN30081&60041 Urban Theory, Planning Theory & Professional Ethics (course unit director)
  • PLAN60712 Urban and Regional Policy

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Clark University

Award Date: 31 Aug 2016

Master of Philosophy, University of Hong Kong

Award Date: 12 Nov 2012

Bachelor of Arts, Peking University

Award Date: 7 Jul 2009

Areas of expertise

  • G Geography (General)
  • Urban Geography
  • Urban politics and governance
  • Political Economy
  • Art and creativity

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Urban Institute
  • Manchester China Institute
  • Global inequalities
  • Digital Futures
  • Creative Manchester

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