Detroit in China is a research and publication project that comparatively examines urban marginalization in cities in the Midwest and China. With the decline of manufacturing in the United States since the 1970s, many cities in the Midwest have become “places off the map” in today’s competitive global economy. On the other side of the globe, the economy in China is booming, and China has become the biggest contender to the economic power of the United States. The spectacular urban growth in China is well documented by now. But little research has been done about rust-belt cities in China’s hinterland.

Choosing Detroit and Harbin in northeast China as fieldwork sites, this project investigates the uneven patterns of development and urban marginality in postindustrial Midwest and China. Drawing upon fieldwork interviews, policy analyses, and visual documentation, this project examines the culture-led revitalization strategies launched by local governments in Detroit and Harbin in order to put these cities back on the map. Debunking the myth that Detroit is unique and incomparable, this project spotlights the uneven urban development in both advanced and emerging economies under the 21st century capitalism.

The project is supported through a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation under the Humanities without Walls program.