The World of Chinese
THE CONCRETE PLATEAU (CORNELL, JULY 15)
Urban spaces are traditionally viewed as a place of assimilation, where the country bumpkin transforms to smooth city slicker. In the case of multicultural Xining, the provincial capital of Qinghai province inhabited by Muslim, Han, and Tibetan communities, the usual complaint in Western academia is that Tibetan culture is powerless against the irresistible forces of Han-ification. But through an apartment shrine here, or an unofficial Xining origin myth there, Tibetans have created their own cityscape at odds with official plans. Over the course of 17 intermittent months from 2013 to 2017, Professor Andrew Grant of Boston College interviewed a score of Tibetans about their lives and beliefs. Grant’s work is a valuable window into the lived reality of China’s urbanization policies, where not everything at ground level is as neat as the gridded street maps would have you believe.