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School of Geography

Paul Waley Dr Paul Waley

Contact details

Room Irene Manton Building, 10.106
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK


+44 (0) 113 34 33338

Student hours:
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Research overview

Urban restructuring and gentrification in Chinese cities

Urbanisation in China has been a state-led project of daunting proportions. Recent and current research examines some of the issues and contradictions that have resulted. There are several areas of particular interest. One is the role of the state and state corporations in orchestrating the urbanisation process in cities such as Shanghai and Kunming in the south west of the country. The second is concerned with the gentrification process as it plays itself out in the context of commercially inspired moves by local governments to conserve architectural heritage. Thirdly, over recent years, I have been involved in research looking at the interplay between choice of school and the gentrification process in Nanjing and other large Chinese cities where well-off middle class parents move into run-down inner city areas solely for the purpose of enrolling their offspring in the key schools. These research projects are being conducted with colleagues Jiang Yanpeng (University of Hong Kong), Chen Hao (Nanjing University) and Wu Qiyan (Xi’an Jiaotong University). With Dr Jiang, I am currently involved in a project examining state rescaling and the role of local government in place promotion in southern Anhui Province.

Recent publications 

Jiang, Y., P. Waley and S. Gonzalez. (2016) Shanghai swings: the Hongqiao project and competitive urbanism in the Yangtze River Delta. Environment and Planning A 48:10, 1928-1947.

Jiang, Y., P. Waley and S. Gonzalez (2016) Shifting land-based coalitions in Shanghai’s second hub. Cities 52: 30-38.

Wu Q., Zhang X. and P. Waley (2016) When Neil Smith met Pierre Bourdieu in Nanjing, China: bringing cultural capital into rent gap theory. Housing Studies DOI: 10.1080/02673037.2016.1228849.

Wu Q., Zhang X. and P. Waley (2016) Jiaoyufication: When gentrification goes to school in the Chinese inner city. Urban Studies 53:16, 3510-3526. DOI: 10.1177/0042098015613234.

Contemporary East Asian cities in comparative perspective

With Tokyo as the starting point, my research seeks to engage with understandings of the role of the state and capital in shaping Japanese and Chinese cities. I am interested in examining the application of  urban concepts and terms like gentrification that have been hatched in the academies of North America and Europe and argue for the relevance of gentrification to the understanding of urban conditions in East Asia. I am also interested in the way that a lack of comparative urban research in East Asia has tended to sideline and ‘orientalise’ work on Japanese cities. My aim is to help re-establish a wider regional setting for the study of East Asian cities.

Waley, P. (2016) Speaking gentrification in the languages of the Global East. Urban Studies 53:3, 615-625. Doi:10.1177/0042098015615726.

Waley, P. (2013) Pencilling Tokyo into the map of neoliberal urbanism. Cities 32: 43-50.

Waley, P. (2012) Japanese cities in Chinese perspective: towards a contextual, regional approach to comparative urbanism. Urban Geography 33:6, 816-828.

Percival, T., and P. Waley (2012) Articulating intra-Asian urbanism: the production of satellite cities in Phnom Penh. Urban Studies 49:13, 2873-2888.Waley, P. (2007) 'Tokyo-as-World-City: Reassessing the Role of Capital and the State in Urban Restructuring.' Urban Studies 44:7, pp. 1465-1490.

Fiévé, N., and Waley, P. (eds) (2003) Japanese Capitals in Historical Perspective: Place, Power and Memory in Kyoto, Edo and Tokyo, London, RoutledgeCurzon.

Representations of the city

Alongside a focus on the political economy of the contemporary urban scene, I am interested in different ways in which cities are written and imagined, asking questions about the impact on urban landscapes of understandings and representations of historical themes and cultural memories. I have in addition a longstanding interest in the historical geography of Tokyo and other Japanese cities. My research here has focussed on the changing nature of the urban periphery of Tokyo.

Waley, P. (2012) Who cares about the past in today’s Tokyo? In C. Brumann and E. Schulz, eds. Urban Spaces in Japan: Social and Cultural Perspectives. London: Routledge. Pp. 148-166.

Waley, P. (2011) The urbanization of the Japanese landscape. In V. Lyon Bestor, T. Bestor and A. Yamagata, eds. Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society. London: Routledge. Pp. 89-100.

Waley, P. (2011) Commemoration, conservation, and commodification: representing the past in present-day Tokyo. Jinbun chiri (Human geography) 63:6, 56–70.

Waley, P. (2010) From flowers to factories: a peregrination through changing landscapes on the edge of Tokyo. Japan Forum 22:4, 281-306.

Urban change in South East Europe

Over the last few years, I have been working on aspects of urban change in southern Europe and the Balkans. My research in this area stems both from family connections (in Bosnia, Serbia and Italy) and also from a student field trip first to Trieste and now to Belgrade which I have been leading for a number of years. My interest in Belgrade crystallised in some introductory research on the remarkable modernist city on the opposite bank of the Sava river known as New Belgrade.

Recent publications

Waley, P. (2013) Cities in transcontinental context: A comparison of mega urban projects in Shanghai and Belgrade. SPATIUM International Review No. 13. Pp. 7-11.

Waley, P. (2011) From Modernist to Market Urbanism: The Transformation of New Belgrade. Planning Perspectives 26:2, 209-235.

Waley, P. (2009) ‘Introducing Trieste: a cosmopolitan city?’ Social & Cultural Geography 10:3, pp. 243-256.

Traditional retail markets

Traditional retail markets are under threat in many countries, including Britain. While some local governments have appeared oblivious to their social value, recent research has drawn attention to their role as centres of civic society, as spaces for the provision of reasonably priced food for people on low incomes and as social venues where people come to spend convivial moments. I have been involved in a research project led by Dr Sara Gonzalez that seeks to re-evaluate the role and importance retail markets and challenge what it sees as an ongoing process of retail gentrification.

Recent publications
Gonzalez, S., and P. Waley (2013) Traditional Retail Markets: The New Gentrification Frontier? Antipode 45:4, 965-983. 


  • Jeon Sungje, Gentrification of a traditional Korean housing area
  • Budi Kurniawan, Migration, Ethnicity and Development in Indonesia Local Governments: Comparative Case Studies among local Governments Institutions in Indonesia
  • Daniel Caparros, Regeneration and Gentrification in Madrid’s Market Halls (with Dr S. Gonzalez)
  • Lin Junfan, Taste and the Boundaries of Local Food: Exploring Social and Cultural Food Geographies in South China (with Dr D. Bell)
  • Asa Roast, Modernity and space in the post-socialist city: Chongqing as case study (with Dr D. Bell)
  • Arizka Warganegara, Transmigrasi, ethnic revivalism and power relations in Indonesia: the case of Lampung (with Dr Oliver Fritsch)
  • Zaid Perdana Nasution, Social network in river governance and decentralization in Indonesia: assessing power relation in policy making and policy implementation (with Dr Oliver Fritsch)
  • Nabati Ray, Impacts of Neoliberal Retail Transformation on the Key Stakeholders of Supply Network: Exploring the Present and Future in the Indian State of West Bengal (with Dr A. Datta)
  • Liu Hui-Fang, A Critical Analysis of Cultural Policy and its Potential Contribution to Urban Regeneration in Taipei and Beyond (with Dr S. Hodkinson) 


  • Dr LIU Hui-Fang, 2012-2016 A critical analysis of culture-led urban regeneration policy in Taipei and beyond (with Dr S. Hodkinson)
  • Dr Jiang Yanpeng, 2010-2014 New Wave Urban Development in Shanghai: planning and building the Hongqiao transport hub and business zone (with Dr S. Gonzalez)
  • Dr Nan Ying, 2010-2014 Construction of religious space and religious change of Tibetan Bon religion (with Dr R. Vanderbeck)
  • Dr Tom Gillespie, 2009-2013 Accumulation by urban dispossession: struggles over urban space in Accra, Ghana (with Dr S. Hodkinson)
  • Dr Tom Percival, 2009 – 2012 A ‘fourth world’ world city? Globalisation and urban change in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (with Dr S. Gonzalez)
  • Dr Bertie Russell, 2008 –2011 Political and philosophical manifestations of ‘representation’ within autonomous geographies (with Dr P. Chatterton)
  • Dr Pakorn Meksangsouy, 2008 – 2011 The globalisation of retailing in Thailand (with Prof. G. Clarke)
  • Dr Ulrika Åberg, 2006 – 2010 Monitoring river rehabilitation in Japan and the UK: at the confluence of people, environment and ecology (with Prof. J. Holden)