PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (12): 1517-1528.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.12.008

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The representation and practice of new urban district-as-home in China: A case study of Kangbashi New Town, Ordos

Duo YIN(), Junxi QIAN, Hong ZHU*()   

  1. Centre for Cultural Industry and Cultural Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
  • Online:2016-12-20 Published:2016-12-20
  • Contact: Hong ZHU;
  • Supported by:
    Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41630635;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41401139, No.41301139;The Research Oriented Talent Trianing Program of National Administration of China, No.WMYC20151035


Recent cultural geographical research on the home reflects engagements not only with the material form of residential space but also the embodied, emotional and performative nature of home in different geographical scales. This article takes Kangbashi, a typical new town in Ordos, as a case area to analyze the contradictory representation and construction of "new town" and the ways in which different social actors construct, practice, and negotiate with the new town's subjective identity as home. The result indicates that: On the one hand, the discourse of popular media outside the Kangbashi New Town, BBC and Times in particular, describes it as a "Ghost City", a weird and unhealthy home space with largely the quality of desolated and abandoned landscape. In contrast, the local government endeavors to re-shape the image of Kangbashi New Town as a vigorous and livable space of the city that is filled with ecological and cultural landscape. On the other hand, residents living in Kangbashi New Town tend to negotiate the meanings of home through their own everyday practices beyond the social representation and authorized discourses. First, daily life mobility enables residents to overcome the spatial constraints of the new town, permits them to break out the social isolation and integrate into the broad urban society. Second, local residents' identity of city-as-home is gradually fostered through re-mapping of the emotional boundary of their living place. In this sense, local residents are not passive recipients of the representation imposed by either the government or the media. We argue that home making is a dynamic negotiation process instead of a fixed and dominant one, which opens a diversified and contradictory image for continuous negotiation by different social actors in everyday life. We hope our findings can provide some insights for further studies on critical geographies of home, and provides some useful ideas on the development of new town research in China.

Key words: new town, "ghost town" and home, representation, non-representation, Kangbashi new town, Ordos