This book is based on the papers that were presented at the First International Urban Anthropology Conference, which was opened in Beijing on December 28, 1989. It contains twenty-two papers and six introductory contributions, dealing with the following subjects: 'Comparative Urbanism: Socialist and Asian Cities'; 'Chinese Urbanization'; 'Chinese Urban Ethnicity'; 'Chinese Urban Culture and Life Cycle'. These papers are written by Chinese and non-Chinese authors.
The conference of 1989/1990 marked the beginning of urban anthropology in China. Before this, the objects of ethnological, sociological and anthropological research in China were rural, rather than urban. Besides, the attention of scholars was mostly directed towards the ethnic minorities in China. In the late 1970's however, contacts with Western anthropologists helped in redirecting part of Chinese anthropology towards the study of urban conglomerations. The congress of 1989/90 marked the acceptance of this new approach in China.