Xuefei Ren

Xuefei  Ren
  • Associate Professor
  • Department of Sociology
  • PhD, Sociology, University of Chicago 2007
  • 401C Berkey Hall
  • 509 E. Circle Drive
  • East Lansing, MI 48824
  • 527-355-6644


Xuefei Ren


 Xuefei Ren is a comparative urbanist whose work focuses on urban development, governance, architecture, and the built environment in global perspective. She is the author of two award-winning books: Building Globalization: Transnational Architecture Production in Urban China (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Urban China (Polity Press, 2013). Her new book, Governing the Urban in China and India: Land Grabs, Slum Clearance, and the War on Air Pollution, has just been published from Princeton University Press.

Currently she is working on a number of comparative projects, on urban redevelopment (China, India, Brazil, and U.S), mega-events (Beijing, Tokyo, and Rio Olympics), and culture-led revitalization in post-industrial cities (Detroit, Harbin, and Turin). She regularly teaches undergraduate courses on social theory, urban sociology, visual sociology, international development, and graduate seminars on comparative urban theory and structural inequality. She is a recipient of a number of distinguished fellowships and grants, including from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, and American Council of Learned Societies.


  • Asian Studies Center
  • Global Urban Studies Program



Ren, Xuefei. 2020. Governing the Urban in China and India: Land Grabs, Slum Clearance, and the War on Air pollution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ren, Xuefei and Roger Keil. (eds.) 2018. The Globalizing Cities Reader. New York: Routledge.

Ren, Xuefei. 2013. Urban China. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Ren, Xuefei. 2011. Building Globalization: Transnational Architecture Production in Urban China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Journal Articles (2015-present):

Ren, Xuefei. 2020. “From a comparative gesture to structured comparison: An analysis of air pollution control in Beijing and Delhi,” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, https://doi.org/10.1093/cjres/rsaa017

Ren, Xuefei. 2020. “Pandemic and lockdown: A territorial approach to Covid-19 in China, Italy, and the U.S.” Eurasian Geography and Economics, DOI: 10.1080/15387216.2020.1762103

Ren, Xuefei. 2020. “Suburbs and urban peripheries in a global perspective,” City & Community, https://doi.org/10.1111/cico.12505

Garrido, Marco, Xuefei Ren, and Liza Weinstein. 2020. “Toward a Global Urban Sociology: Keywords,” City & Community. https://doi.org/10.1111/cico.12502

Ren, Xuefei. 2020. “Slums, favelas, and urban villages: Housing crises in Guangzhou, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro,” Current History, 119 (813): 15-21.

Ren, Xuefei. 2018. “From Chicago to China and India: Studying the city in the 21st Century,” Annual Review of Sociology, 44: 497-513.

Ren, Xuefei. 2017. “Aspirational urbanism from Beijing to Rio de Janeiro: Olympic cities in the global South and contradictions,” Journal of Urban Affairs, 39(7): 894-908.

Ren, Xuefei. 2017. “Governing the informal: Housing policies over informal settlements in China, India, and Brazil,” Housing Policy Debate, 28(1): 79-93.

Ren, Xuefei. 2017. “Land acquisition, rural protests, and the local state in China and India,” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 35(1): 22-38. 

Ren, Xuefei. 2015. “City power and urban fiscal crises: The USA, China, and India,” International Journal of Urban Sciences, 19(1): 73-81. 

Book Chapters (2015-present):

Ren, Xuefei. 2020. “Redeveloping informal settlements in China, India, and Brazil,” in Chinese Cities in the 21st Century, Youqin Huang (ed), p.81-90. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ren, Xuefei. 2019. “Robert Park in China: From the Chicago School to urban China studies,” in The City in China: Perspectives on Contemporary Urbanism, Ray Forrest, Julie Ren, and Bart Wissink (eds). Bristol: Policy Press. 

Ren, Xuefei. 2019. “Thousand-mile city,” in Routledge Handbook of Chinese Architecture, Jianfei Zhu, Wei Chen, and Hua Li (eds). London: Routledge.  

Ren, Xuefei. 2019. “Building on quick sand: Infrastructural megaprojects in China,” in Global Suburban Infrastructure, Pierre Filion (ed). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.  

Ren, Xuefei. 2018. “Cities in developing countries,” in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies, Anthony Orum (ed). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Ren, Xuefei. 2018. “A genealogy of redevelopment in Chinese cities,” in Urbanization and Urban Governance in China: Issues, Challenges, and Development, Lin Ye (ed), p.93-108. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ren, Xuefei. 2018. “In search of the cosmopolitan Chinese city: Guangzhou’s urban villages,” in Letters to the Leaders of China: Kongjian Yu and the Future of the Chinese City, Michael Sorkin (ed), p.202-211. New York: Terreform. 

Ren, Xuefei and Roger Keil. 2018. “From global to globalizing cities,” in The Globalizing Cities Reader, Xuefei Ren and Roger Keil (eds), p.xxiii-xxix. New York: Routledge.

Ren, Xuefei. 2018. “Governing the informal in globalizing cities: Comparing China, India, and Brazil,” in TheGlobalizing Cities Reader, Xuefei Ren and Roger Keil (eds), p.459-464. New York: Routledge.

Ren, Xuefei. 2018. “ ‘Green’ as urban spectacle in China,” in Sustainable Cities in Asia, Federico Caprotti and Li Yu (eds), p.77-85. London: Routledge. [reprint]

Ren, Xuefei. 2017. “Fragile entrepreneurialism: The Mumbai airport slum redevelopment project,” in Entrepreneurial Urbanism in India: The Politics of Spatial Restructuring and Local Contestation, Smitha Kanekanti Chandrashekar (ed), p.157-173. Singapore: Springer. 

Ren, Xuefei. 2017. “Biggest infrastructure bubble ever? City and nation building with debt-financed megaprojects in China,” in The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management, Bent Flyvbjerg (ed), p.139-153. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ren, Xuefei. 2017. “Cities in China and India: Disjuncture, master-concepts, and comparisons,” in A Research Agenda for Cities, John R. Short (ed), p.195-205. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Ren, Xuefei. 2017. “Lost in translation: Names, meanings, and development strategies of Beijing’s periphery,” in What’s in a Name? Talking about Urban Peripheries, Richard Harris and Charlotte Vorms (eds), p.316-333. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Ren, Xuefei. 2016. “Citizenship in China and India: A Comparison,” in The Making of Vibrant Cities, Mumbai First (ed), p.59-63. New Delhi: Rupa Publications India.

Ren, Xuefei. 2015. “Pouvoir municipal et crise fiscal urbaine aux États-Unis, en Chine et en Inde,” in Tous Responsables? Chroniques de la Gouvernance, p.79-87. Paris: Belles Lettres. 

Ren, Xuefei. 2015. “Forward to the past: Historical preservation in globalizing Shanghai,” in Urban Redevelopment and Citizen Participation: Comparisons of Japan, Korea, and China, Koyo Tajima (ed), p.68-105. Tokyo: CUON. (In Japanese)