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Grounding displacement: Uncivil urban spaces in postreform South China

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Abstract

This historical–ethnographic study of village enclaves in Guangzhou explores the intensified entrenchment of villagers in a Maoist past when they faced market fluidities of a postreform present. It underscores a rural–urban spatiality and a cultural divide between villagers, migrants, and urbanites that are simultaneously transgressed and reinforced. It highlights discursive categories and institutional practices that incarcerate the residents, who juggle lingering socialist parameters with compelling market forces and state development priorities. Connectivity and exclusion, agency and victimization, groundedness and dislocation as lived experience are captured by the historically thick social ethos in the enclaves. This article rethinks issues of emplacement and displacement, dichotomy, and process.

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