Workshop Ruinscapes in Urban China

Judith AUDIN (CEFC, Hong Kong/CECMC) et Katiana LE MENTEC (CNRS/CECMC) ont le plaisir de vous inviter au Workshop international :

Ruinscapes in Urban China 

Ruins, abandoned buildings, decaying places, derelict architecture, produce a diversity of forms, meanings and practices, as well as very specific configurations of Chinese urbanities. While Chinese ruins and decaying processes have been greatly studied in urban studies, this workshop aim at discussing ruinscapes in China from ethnographic perspectives, crisscrossing anthropology, sociology, andvisual studies. Residual parts of natural disasters, their preserved or left abandoned ruins, will be the entry point of this reflection, as we commemorate this year the ten-year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake (12 May 2008, Sichuan). Papers will show how they easily enter into enriching dialogue with other Chinese ruinscapes, outcome of various events and crises, such as housing demolition, economic shrinkage, and failed architecture. The workshop questions categories of ruins and raise the complexity of their underlying representations and uses in China. The workshop is conceived in three parts:“traumatic” ruinscape, “ordinary” ruinscape, and visual representations of urban ruins. By discussing from contrasting angles and different academic disciplines, this workshop introduces new insights on the texture, the spatiality, as well as the discourses and social practices of ruinscapes in urban China.


Friday 21 December 2018


Hong Kong
Chinese University of Hong Kong, Yasumoto International Acafemic Park.
Centre for China Studies,
CCS Resources Room (YIA 1118-1119) [for workshop’s parts 1 & 2] and  Esther Lee Building. Lecture Theatre 1 [part 3]


Sites are limited, please confirm your attendance at :


9.30 Opening of the room/morning coffee CCS Resources Room (YIA1118-1119)

9.45 Introduction by Judith Audin  & Katiana Le Mentec

10.00 Part 1: “Traumatic” Ruinscapes 

The first part of the workshopreflects upon the social impacts of three kinds of ruins, remaining destroyedurban landscape after the Wenchuan earthquake, temporary demolition spaces onthe Yangze banks before their submersion by the Three Gorges Dam Reservoir, andthe ruins of urban demolition in Shanghai’s lilong.

Timmy Chih-Ting Chen (HKBU):  Remembering Ruins ofthe Wenchuan Earthquake

Katiana LE MENTEC (CNRS, CECMC): People’s contrasting interactions with urban ruins: a selection of ethnographical cases from Yunyang (Three Gorges Area) and Beichuan (Sichuan)

Jérémy CHEVAL (Ecole Urbaine, Lyon, France):  Practices around Shanghai lilong’s Material Demolition

Beichuan Preserved City ruins after the Wenchuan Earthquake (K. Le Mentec)

13.30 Part 2: “Ordinary Ruinscapes”

The second part of the workshop explores the “ordinary”dimensions of urban ruins in China and the theme of marginality through thecase study of how marginal groups (migrant workers) appropriate theses liminalspaces, between wastescapes, and demolished spaces. The strangeness of abandonedbuildings will also be examined through the practice of urban exploration. Theliminality of ruins and of the way they are “lived in” is a way to rethink thedynamics of economic, social, and ecological crises and to provide anotherunderstanding on Chinese urbanities.

WU Kaming (Centre for Cultural Studies, CUHK): Living with Waste

LING Minhua (Centre for China Studies, CUHK): Container Housing: Living with Demolition in Shanghai

Éric FLORENCE (CEFC, Hong Kong): Writing and Drawing Destruction/Eviction: An Exploratory Look at a Children Magazine

Tong LAM (University of Toronto) Because There is No Room for Fiction in China’s (Extra)ordinary Ruins

Ordinary urban ruins by J. Audin

16.45 Part 3: Envisioning Ruinscapes: Approaches in Visual Arts

The last part of the workshop is dedicated to film screenings on thetopic of disaster and destruction work ruins. Screenings will be followed by acollective discussion on the way Chinese ruinscapes are envisioned. How visualarts seize such spaces and landscapes? What kind of messages can they conveythat other forms of communication can’t? How visual arts and social sciencescan collaborate to better understand issues related to urban ruins in contemporaryChina?

Presentation of film directors: Chen Qiulin 陈秋林,  Gu Tao 古濤, and Xu Ruotao 徐若涛

Screening of :
“On theWay to the Sea”, directed by Gu Tao 古濤, 2010, Canada/China, GreenGroundProductions, 20’
Filmmaker returns to Wenchuan where he was born and which was hit by the most devastatingearthquake in Chinese history with 70,000 deaths, 375,000 seriously injured andover 17,000 people missing. His parents survived, but lost everything. How does an artist deal with this much suffering?

“别赋/Farewell Poem”, directed by Chen Qiulin 陈秋林 , 2002, 9’9
Filmmaker returns home, to the Three Gorges Area, at the time the Yangtze river bank cities are on the process to be deconstructed to make place for the Three Gorges Dam Reservoir. Farewell Poem is the first work of a long series of visual art works Chen Qiulin dedicated to the changes of urban landscape, of time and of people.

“Yumen”, directed by JP Sniadecki,Xu Ruotao 徐若涛 et al. 65’
Set in a quasi-ghost town that once thrived with oil in China’s arid northwest, Yumen is a haunting, fragmented tale of hungry souls, restless youth, a wandering artist and a lonely woman, all searching for human connection among the town’s crumbling landscape. One part “ruin porn”, one part “ghost story”, and entirely shot on 16mm, the filmbrings together performance art, narrative gesture, and social realism not onlyto play with convention and defy genre, but also to pay homage to a disappearing life-world and a fading medium。

18.50 Discussion  with the filmmakers, the audience, and researchers Timmy Chih-Ting Chen (HKBU), Judith Pernin (CEFC, Hong Kong), and Kristof VanDen Troost (Centre for China Studies, CUHK).


Judith Audin : jaudin(at)
Katiana le Mentec : katianalementec(at)

Programme en pdf


Citer ce billet
katiana Le Mentec (2018, 12 décembre). Workshop Ruinscapes in Urban China. Carnets du Centre Chine (CNRS/EHESS). Consulté le 20 mai 2024, à l’adresse

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