Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Second Department

Art History

Reader 1

Lance Neckar

Reader 2

Bruce Coats

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© 2017 Wanyun Yang


This thesis examines the city of Nanjing in the context of challenges to its sustainability and preservation represented by contesting forces in play in its rapid urbanization and redevelopment. These contesting forces are represented in a discourse matrix that illustrates the tensions between holism and economic development on one axis and contested interpretations of intrinsic values and place-based associations of residents on another. These tensions, which are present in many historic preservation cases across the globe, are made very specific by the administrative structure of preservation in China and in the city in tension with the pressures of conventional redevelopment that destroys historic fabric. At issue are losses of authenticity in the life of the city as understood by the associations of residents with their places of residence. This tension is exacerbated by the cultural and difficult political history of Nanjing, which can be understood to embody its intrinsic history. This history is recounted here to provide context for the evaluation of two city preservation projects, the Ming City Wall and the South Old Town preservation districts in relation to the discourse matrix. Conclusions are offered which suggest that only the future will reveal how Nanjing will or will not resolve these tensions between holistic preservation and government-controlled redevelopment.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.