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Urbanizing Minority Minzu in the PRC: Insights from the Literature on Settler Colonialism

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-09, 02:50 authored by Ju-Han Zoe Wang, Gerald RocheGerald Roche
This article provides a synthesis and critical review of the literature on urban minority minzu 民族 in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The vast majority of the Chinese-language literature on minorities in cities adopts a state-centric view through the lens of stability and integration, focusing on how minorities can adapt to urban life for the purpose of creating a “harmonized” society. This statist narrative not only denies the subjectivity of minorities in the city but also constrains the understandings of the dynamics of urban indigeneity. In this article, we draw on the literature of urban Indigenous peoples in settler colonial contexts to suggest new ways of examining the urban experience of minority minzu in the PRC. We suggest that this literature provides useful insights that help center the subjectivities and agency of Indigenous people in the PRC’s cities. Literature on urban minorities in the PRC can be expanded by engaging with the Indigenous urbanization literature to include coverage of three topics: representation (how minority people are shown as belonging to the city), mobilization (the use of urban space by minority people to pursue social, cultural, and political projects), and mobility (movement and interconnectedness between rural homelands and the city).


The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Gerald Roche's work was supported by funding from an Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP180101651).


Publication Date



Modern China





Article Number



24p. (p. 593-616)





Rights Statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the article below. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. Wang, J.-H. Z., & Roche, G. (2022). Urbanizing Minority Minzu in the PRC: Insights from the Literature on Settler Colonialism. Modern China, 48(3), 593–616. © The Author(s) 2021.

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