Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (12): 2199-2213.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201712006

• Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Scavengers' bodily practices and spatial construction in Guangzhou

Wei TAO1,2(), Shaoxu WANG3, Hong ZHU1,2()   

  1. 1. School of Geography, South China Normal University , Guangzhou 510631, China
    2. Centre for Cultural Industry and Cultural Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    3. The School of Architecture and Planning, The University of Auckland, Auckland, 1010
  • Received:2016-11-22 Revised:2017-05-28 Online:2017-12-25 Published:2017-12-25
  • Supported by:
    Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41630635;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271178


Promoted by the insights and movements of feminism, the geography of body has gradually been established as an important sub-field in human geography since the 1990s, which proposes a new research agenda that is based on the monism of the mind and the body. Expanded upon from the paradigm of post-modernism, it can be seen that the bodily research, which is primarily concerned with how the body is used for experiencing the outside world, producing the knowledge, and occupying the space, plays a critical role in human geography studies, which, to a significant extent, challenges the mainstream culture and makes the marginalized voice heard. Based on the methods of in-depth interviews and participatory observations, this paper tries to explore the ways that scavengers occupy and reconstruct urban space, and therefore to analyze the spatial characteristics and structure of scavengers' enclaves. The findings of this paper include: (1) based on the exploration of scavengers' subtle and fragmented bodily practices and individuals' agency, this paper finds out that this group has successfully achieved the material construction of urban space. Their achievement shows that bodily practices play an important role in occupying the urban space, in particular when this group tries to survive in modern cities. Focusing on this group's bodily practices, this paper provides a new approach to understanding the interests of scavengers and the relations between bodies and places. (2) Framed in the geographical proximity, inter-industrial relations and the patronage relations, this paper finds out that scavengers from the same province has built a special type of enclave that is hidden behind the urban space. This group of people has also contributed to the formation of working territory with vague boundaries but definite power of acquisition. This process has transferred the urban space that is defined by institutions of urban planning into the mixed space which is endowed with both the urban and the rural characteristics. The building of scavengers' enclave explains how bodies of the marginalized group reshape and reconstruct places, which, to a notable extent, promotes the development of empirics of the geography of body within China.

Key words: scavengers, bodily practices, spatial construction, social relationship, enclave, Guangzhou