Shuishan Yu – Forum on the Changing Meanings of Beijing

Co-sponsored by the BU Department of History of Art and Architecture & City Planning and Urban Affairs Program, BU Metropolitan College

In this forum, part of the “Asia and the City” BUCSA yearly series, two short presentations will highlight the changing nature of the Chinese capital between the late imperial and contemporary periods, followed by a conversation with Boston University faculty.

Professor Yu’s presentation is entitled “Cutting the Dragon Vein: Modern Transformation of Imperial Beijing.

Dominated by a north-south axis,  Ming-Qing Beijing featured a concentric plan with layer after layer of walls and gates, screening the invisible center of power away from public view. Lining up all symbolic structures legitimizing the Mandate of Heaven, this axis was known as the “Dragon Vein.” The modern transformation of Beijing had been posed as an antithesis to such an imperial urban model, tearing down the walls and gates and cutting the dragon vein with big avenues. Yet like the imperial model, the modern urban space strengthened the centralization of power rather than weakening it. Analyzing the metamorphosis of Beijing in the mid-twentieth century focusing on its old and new axes, this presentation demonstrates how the imperial framework affected the modern transformations of Beijing and its political implications in the current development.

For more information:



Thu, Feb 27, 2014

5:00 pm-7:00 pm


Boston University

Eilts Room
154 Bay State Road
Boston, Massachusetts