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Yibin field trip of newly arrived Prof. Breuer and Prof. Gruschke
发布日期:2014/6/20  点击次数:1570

Yibin field trip of newly arrived Prof. Breuer and Prof. Gruschke

From May 23 to May 26, our institute's Prof. Andreas Gruschke organized a field trip to Yibin city in southern Sichuan for Prof. Ingo Breuer who took office at the Faculty of Social Development and Western China Development Studies in the beginning of this May.

Prof. Breuer, formerly working at the Collaborative Research Centre Difference and Integrationat Leipzig University (Germany) is an expert of livelihood research in rural areas. His regional research focus had so far mainly been in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in Tibetan areas of China, where he has done research together with our institutes Prof. Gruschke since 2006. The two of them started to work on issues of urbanization in western China which led them to offer a seminar on urbanization for graduate students of our faculty and organize a respective panel on Chinas urban drive: Which way to go with urbanization, urban eco-tourism, eco-civilization? Conceptual discussions on terms, objectives and possible impacts of Chinas urbanization policies at this years  9th Annual Conference of CWCDS in Guiyang (中国西部开发研究联合体第9届学术年会, 贵阳 201475-6).

In order to familiarize Prof. Breuer with the urban and rural structure of some typical Sichuan regions distant to the Tibetan Plateau, varied sites in Yibin Shi were chosen as field study sites. Besides getting an impression of the urban development of the downtown area in the city proper, Prof. Breuer and Prof. Gruschke chose rural townships in Yibin and Gongxian counties to study local initiatives for tourism development, currently a major interest of many urban areas in China. Hengjiang Zhen in Yibin county exemplifies a less developed, still predominantly rural town where potential tourist sites have been identifiedyet are still having difficulties to be further developed and popularized. The demographic structure is mixed, with little job opportunities in place and therefore predominantly old and often run-down buildings. Infrastructural problems can be seen as an underlying issue for this. In a meeting with Wang Shiying, representative of the local cultural bureau, the two professors talked about the cultural background and tourist sites of the area. During a short interview with local staff of the public secrity bureau, they learned that Hengjiang, although having applied for the status of a recognized old town(guzhen) and only some 40 km from downtown Yibin, has hardly been visited by foreigners, and the small German research team from Sichuan University had been the first foreigners staying overnight in Hengjiang. Prof. Breuer and Prof. Gruschke, as well as the third team member, Astrid Zimmermann who is scheduled to start her work at the School of Tourism in October, were quite surprised that the two police officers expressed their thanks for the teams visit to Hengjiang.

Luobiao Zhen in Gongxian, on the other hand, has obviously experienced modernization and, related to it, a building boom.Tourism is more developed herebecause the main local sightseeing spots sites with some of the famous Hanging Coffinsof the ancient Bo people have been well developed. However, the modern urban appearance that Luobiao offers from a distance turned out to be oversized and inadequate when considering the demographic structure of the area: obviously being home to a migrant population working in distant cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Kunming and elsewhere, many of the new houses look empty. Some villages as well as the township proper therefore boast urban structures but at the same time appear less lively than Hengjiang where, in the run-down yet somehow charming old business street, lots of different activities and services gave the impression that business can serve as a basis for rural livelihoods, connecting rural areas with the urban sphere. In contrast, migrant workers from the Luobiao area have invested in local tourism infrastructure, building being done by their families who have set up some typical rural tourist businesses: nongjiale, which are an expression of urban-rural interactions which illustrate that rural areas canbenefit from urban development.

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