The World of Chinese



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.

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