Author: Feng, Lei
Title: Making chengzhongcun from within : identity and space in migrants' everyday lives
Advisors: Siu, Kaxton (APSS)
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2020
Subject: Internal migrants -- China -- Social conditions
Identity (Psychology)
Urbanization -- China
Rural-urban relations -- China
Cities and towns -- China
Migration, Internal -- China
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: viii, 139 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Chengzhongcun as migrant settlements in cities of South China is widely believed to be a result of urban economic development and state policies. This study, by contrast, explores how chengzhongcun can also be produced by migrants from within. Drawing on Lefebvre's three-dimensional dialectic (the perceived, conceived, and lived), it looks into three dimensions of migrants' everyday lives in chengzhongcun—social interaction, consumption, and alternative uses of space — to find out how migrants construct their identity and influence local spaces, and how these two processes interrelate. Based on a six-month ethnography in Wu village — one of the largest migrant settlements in the northern part of Guangzhou — in 2017, this study brings into light migrants' intended, yet conflicted, roles in producing chengzhongcun. First, migrants in Wu village are often isolated from each other, uncommitted to communities or companions; such loose, fragile relations make the village a reality of vigilance and self fulfilment rather than mutual understanding or support. Second, as consumers, migrants tend to think of Wu village in a negative sense, assuming many of its spaces to be exotic and dangerous and thereby mentally reinforcing the disorder of the village. Third, nonetheless, with their creativity and genuine feelings, migrants sometimes do take advantage of local spaces and can thus invest in the village their meaningful meetings, rebellious images, as well as their aspirations and memories. In sum, this study argues that it is in and through a sort of structured urban experience that chengzhongcun is continuously "othered" from the city, and that this othering process cannot be easily challenged without changes in both migrants' and "our" habitual social practice and commonsensical knowledge. On this basis, it questions a dual-city framework that takes identity and spatial differences in global cities for granted and, instead, stresses that urban division has to studied and tackled at the level of everyday experience.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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