University of Calgary

Yawei Zhao

  • Doctoral Student

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.

Current Research

My PhD research project explores new landscapes produced and/or consumed by ‘creative’ newcomers in Dali, a small city in southwest China, in light of the arrival of the Experience Economy. First, I identify informality as a critical mechanism underlying the production of experiencescapes as multiple actors including local governments, newcomers, and original residents have engaged in informal practices in the process. In particular, I propose the idea of ‘flexible informality’ to represent the strategy adopted by local governments in accepting, regulating, or eliminating informalities to fulfil their varying priorities across time. Second, I argue that the experiencescapes enjoyed by newcomers are exclusive under the guise of cultural sensibility and aesthetic appreciation. The consumption of these landscapes reflects and reinforces socioeconomic differences between individuals in a way less visible to many newcomers. Moreover, I elaborate what a ‘small city’ means and entails when a steady flux of new residents occurs. I maintain that the Chinese household registration system that reproduces inequalities in larger cities is not an issue in small cities like Dali. Overall, I attempt to bring to the fore the opportunities and problems facing a small city when a remarkable number of newcomers arrive and stay.


Master of Arts, Geography (Thesis)

McGill University

Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours), Environmental Policy Studies

City University of Hong Kong


Book Review

Current Studies

  • Doctoral Student
    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
    Supervisor: Eliot Tretter
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