Skip to main content

Wanghong Urbanism: Towards a New Urban-Digital Spectacle

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

Book your place

Experts in urban planning and digital culture ask: what happens when places achieve celebrity status online? 

What happens when places achieve celebrity status online? In this talk, Amy Y. Zhang, Asa Roast and Carwyn Morris introduce the term “wanghong urbanism” to describe the rise of a new urban-digital spectacle. Wanghong is an abbreviation of wangluo hongren (meaning “internet famous person”) in Mandarin Chinese media discourse. Removing any reference to “person”, “wanghong” has increasingly been applied to urban places as much as people. Though originating from the distinct experiences of mainland Chinese cities, wanghong urbanism provides a lens for capturing urban transformations in an era where images, videos, and place-based information are increasingly shared through social media.

Amy Y. Zhang is a Lecturer in Urban Planning at the Department of Planning and Environmental Management in the School of Environment, Education and Development, The University of Manchester. Her research focuses on urban politics and governance, urban knowledge and policy mobilities, postcolonial urban theory, and state-society relations of China. Her current and previous work has looked into urban political economy of arts and creativity as well as land commodification in Chinese cities, and has appeared in Urban Geography, Urban Studies, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Geoforum.

Asa Roast is a Lecturer in Urban Geography at the School of Geography in the University of Leeds. His research chiefly focuses on urban transformations in China, with an emphasis on housing, informality, verticality and urban agriculture in the city of Chongqing, alongside a wider range of research interests in urban theory, displacement and games. His research has been published in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Urban Studies, Annals of American Association of Geographers and Verge: Studies in Global Asia.

Carwyn Morris is a University Lecturer of Digital China at the Leiden Institute of Area Studies, Leiden University. His research examines the spatialization of digital relations, including digital displacement, digital territorialization projects, digital mobilities, and internet celebrity urbanisms. His work has appeared in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Mobility, Made in China, and The China Quarterly.

Contact name: