Gaubatz - Photo

Contact information: gaubatz *at* umass.edu  tel: 413-545-0768

I am an urban geographer specializing in the study of urban change, development and planning in East Asia and the U.S.    As an urban geographer I am interested in the processes which shape urban space, and particularly in the historical and contemporary linkages between policy, practice and physical and social urban forms in China, Japan and the U.S.   Non-specialists can understand my work as seeking answers to questions such as “how are public spaces, such as the large squares established for mass rallies in the 1950s-1960s, changing in Chinese cities,?” “what happens when new models of urban development generated in China’s hyper-developing, globalizing eastern cities are applied in the impoverished interior and western regions?,” and “how did the establishment of cities in China’s northern frontier regions change lives, landscapes and ecologies in the vast grasslands of Mongolia/Inner Mongolia?”

My educational background includes an AB with highest honors from Princeton University (Sociology, with a secondary concentration in Architecture), Advanced Research Student in Geography, Peking University and MA and Ph.D in Geography, UC Berkeley.  In addition to my academic positions, I have held competitive postdoctoral positions at the East-West Center in Honolulu (1990-91) and Yale University’s Center for Agrarian Studies (2005-6), and editorial positions with Cities, Urban Design International, Urban Morphology, Eurasian Geography and Economics, The Geographical Review and Historical Geography.   I’m currently an associate editor for Cities.  I’ve funded my field research on urban transformation and morphology in China, Japan and the U.S. through grants and fellowships from a variety of funding agencies such as Fulbright, the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.  Field research and on-the-ground experience is central to my work.   Over the past thirty years I have carried out fieldwork-based research in eighteen different cities in China, Japan and the U.S. (China: Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Kunming, Xining, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Höhhot, Dalian, Harbin, Chongqing, and Wuhan; Japan: Nagoya, Toyokawa;  U.S.: Princeton, Oakland, Cupertino). In addition to articles in scholarly journals, I’ve published three books – Beyond the Great Wall (1996, Stanford University Press) which chronicles the historical development of cities in China’s frontier regions,  The Chinese City (2013, Routledge Press, with co-author Weiping Wu), and the completely-revised 2nd edition of The Chinese City (2021, Routledge Press, with co-author Weiping Wu).

My long-term academic goal is to build a new body of theoretical and methodological approaches to urban analysis which is accessible to both academics and professionals in planning and design.  These approaches will provide frameworks for understanding urban transformation through integrating analyses of changes in the natural and built environments with changes in economic, social, political and cultural aspects of urban life.  Within this context, my approach to geographical theory and research is grounded in a critical reading of cities as representations of power, knowledge, culture, economies and societal relations and dynamics within and beyond the urban community.  Currently I am conducting research on the transformations of public squares in a number of cities throughout China with an emphasis on better understanding the ways in which China’s new economic and urban development is changing landscapes originally shaped by socialist institutions.