This special issue on critical directions in Chinese architectural history is prompted by the opportunities for scholarly engagement that have opened up in postreform China. The opening is a result, not merely of China’s emergence as a geopolitical power, but also of the forms of knowledge production and exchange that the reformist desire for economic growth has spawned.

After a hiatus of several decades, scholars in China are again engaging with Western scholarship. Architects and planners from the West are handling major commissions in China, and Chinese architectural firms are returning the favor. Thousands of students, practitioners, and researchers are crossing political, cultural, and linguistic boundaries to learn and to share expertise. The expansion of architectural criticism in China beyond the aegis of the state bodes well for the future. Although only a small fraction of architectural research and criticism published in Chinese has been translated into English, the surge...

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