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The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation

Beijing, Chicago, and Paris

2013
Author:

Yue Zhang

The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation

Reveals the political underpinnings of urban preservation

In this book, Yue Zhang presents a cross-national comparative analysis of the politics of urban preservation. Based on comprehensive archival research and more than two hundred in-depth interviews in Beijing, Chicago, and Paris, Zhang finds that urban preservation provides a tool for diverse political and social actors to frame their propositions and advance their favored courses of action.

Yue Zhang vividly captures the inherently political nature of urban historic preservation by comparing the complex process by which political actors use government to transform and protect the urban landscape in Beijing, Chicago, and Paris. The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation is exceptionally well written, lively, and careful in its analysis. It highlights how the structure of urban governance powerfully influences the way cities change physically, and it raises profound questions about the obstacles to local democracy in deciding how and when this happens. It is a major contribution to the study of comparative urban politics.

Paul Kantor, Fordham University

While urban preservation is almost as old as cities themselves, it has become increasingly controversial in modern cities. In this book, Yue Zhang presents a cross-national comparative analysis of the politics of urban preservation. Based on comprehensive archival research and more than two hundred in-depth interviews in Beijing, Chicago, and Paris, Zhang finds that urban preservation provides a tool for diverse political and social actors to frame their propositions and advance their favored courses of action.

In cities from West to East, divergent political and economic interests have caused urban preservation to become contested. Exploring three of the world’s great cities, Zhang deftly navigates readers through each case study, illustrating the complexities of the politics of urban preservation in each city. In Beijing, urban preservation was integral to promoting economic growth and enhancing the city’s image during the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics; in Chicago, it is used to increase property values and revitalize neighborhoods; and in Paris, it offers a channel for national and municipal governments to compete for control over urban space.

Although urban preservation serves various purposes in these cities, Zhang explains how different types of political fragmentation have affected the implementation of preservation initiatives in predictable ways, thus generating distinct patterns of urban preservation. A comparative urban politics study of unusual breadth, The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation gives us insight into the complex policy process of urban preservation through which political institutions are intertwined with interests and inclinations, fundamentally shaping the direction of urban development, the physical forms of cities, and the lives of citizens.

The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation

Yue Zhang is assistant professor of political science at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation

Yue Zhang vividly captures the inherently political nature of urban historic preservation by comparing the complex process by which political actors use government to transform and protect the urban landscape in Beijing, Chicago, and Paris. The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation is exceptionally well written, lively, and careful in its analysis. It highlights how the structure of urban governance powerfully influences the way cities change physically, and it raises profound questions about the obstacles to local democracy in deciding how and when this happens. It is a major contribution to the study of comparative urban politics.

Paul Kantor, Fordham University

Yue Zhang has given us a wonderful volume on the politics of urban preservation that is written in the best tradition of social science. This comparative study is comprehensive without being overbearing and incisive without getting lost in detail. It is no easy task to deliver on such an ambitious project, but this book does it with aplomb and tenacity of purpose.

H.V. Savitch, University of Louisville

This is a well-framed cross-national comparison with a strong conceptual base that advances understanding of the oft-lamented fragmentation of political authority.

Choice

An important model for understanding the politics of urban preservation.

Political Science Quarterly

An exceptionally well-structured and clearly written book - theoretically sound and empirically interesting.

Urban Studies

The Fragmented Politics of Urban Preservation

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Paradox of Urban Preservation

1. The Logic of Political Fragmentation
2. Beijing: Bureaucratic Anarchy and Symbolic Preservation
3. Chicago: Aldermanic Fiefdoms and Mosaic Preservation
4. Paris: Intergovernmental Fragmentation and Joint Preservation

Conclusion: Political Boundaries and Beyond

Notes
Bibliography
Index