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Peripheral Urbanism

Making history on China’s northwest frontier
Tom Cliff
p. 13-23


This paper analyses the motives, processes, and effects of urbanisation in Korla, a small but rapidly expanding city in northwest China, where the author conducted over two years of fieldwork. The paper aims to show that the historical monuments of the urban environment are physical manifestations of a stirring, and often violent, program of ideational and socio-economic change that is directed at the periphery and all of its residents – even as some of those residents are also posed as agents of the ongoing transformation.

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Bibliographical reference

Tom Cliff, « Peripheral Urbanism », China Perspectives, 2013/3 | 2013, 13-23.

Electronic reference

Tom Cliff, « Peripheral Urbanism », China Perspectives [Online], 2013/3 | 2013, Online since 01 September 2016, connection on 20 February 2018. URL :

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About the author

Tom Cliff

Tom Cliff is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University.Room 4239, Coombs Building, School of Culture, History and Language, The Australian National University, ACT, 0200, Australia (

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