Building SoHo in Shenzhen: The territorial politics of gentrification and state making in China

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15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the territorial politics of gentrification at China's rural-urban interface. Drawing on empirical fieldwork in Shenzhen, it is shown that gentrification in China can be seen as a state-making strategy deployed by the government to consolidate territorial control and extend the reach of the state. Unlike conventional accounts of gentrification which assumes the universality of formal, property-based land tenure, this paper highlights how the prevalence of informality and non-privatized property rights in the post-socialist context produces distinct dynamics of gentrification and state-society interactions at the rural fringe of Chinese cities. While gentrification is often seen as a place-making strategy espoused by entrepreneurial states to attract investment and bolster consumption, it also functions as a state-building tactic for recovering and materializing land rights where property rights are uncertain, under-defined and contested. In the process, uneven patterns of direct and indirect displacement can be observed which reflected a more complex reality than the class replacement thesis commonly found in traditional gentrification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2020


  • China
  • Cultural clusters
  • Gentrification
  • Land politics
  • Rural-urban interface
  • Urban villages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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