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Digitizing the Dragon Head, Geo-coding the Urban Landscape: GIS and the Transformation of China's Urban Governance

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wen Lin



While local governments have been one of the major user groups of GIS, there is still little research on how GIS development in local government might be intertwined with urban governance, particularly in non-Western contexts. Drawing upon insights from GIS implementation, critical GIS, and governmentality studies, this article seeks to bridge this gap by examining the implications of Chinese urban government GIS practices amidst China’s changing urban governance. Through an in-depth case study of Shenzhen, this article analyzes how urban GIS has been transformed from a practice involving internal organizational workflow automation, into a more active dimension of the governance of urban spaces—reflected in the expanding practice of "geo-coding" the urban landscape. "Geo-coding" here refers to a broadly defined spatial practice of carving and reconstructing a rational urban space. GIS practices have constituted a particular form of geographic rationality that seeks to govern at a distance while simultaneously regulating the urban environment, intersecting with the broader transformations of China's urban governance. These GIS developments have been largely government-centric rather than citizen-centric, yet they provide possibilities for new forms of spatial knowledge production for citizen participation in urban governance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lin W

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Geography

Year: 2013

Volume: 34

Issue: 7

Pages: 901-922

Print publication date: 22/07/2013

Date deposited: 24/07/2013

ISSN (print): 0272-3638

ISSN (electronic): 1938-2847

Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc.


DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2013.812389


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