Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 74 ›› Issue (2): 353-365.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201902011

• Culture and Tourism Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The construction and memory of urban nature: A cultural geographic analysis of urban rivers in Guangzhou

WANG Min1(),ZHAO Meiting1,ZHU Hong2()   

  1. 1. School of Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    2. Centre for Human Geography and Urban Development, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • Received:2017-10-31 Online:2019-02-25 Published:2019-01-29
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41871127, No.41630635, No.41601133


As an indispensable part of the city, urban nature is the important material carrier of city memory. Based on the data from web texts, interviews and photo ratings, this paper adopts the method of NVivo analysis to analyze the case of urban rivers in Guangzhou from the perspective of material geography, and discusses the interaction mechanism between the social construction of urban nature and urban memory. The analysis shows that the function of urban natural resources has changed with the development of social and economic conditions, and has evolved through the mutual penetration of human practices and social systems. Specifically, this paper indicates that the social construction of nature, to a great extent, has reflected not only the evolution of urban functions and material forms, but also the way of material utilization and its relationship with urban culture. In addition, the interaction between urban residents and rivers has been a way of cultural production. In this process, urban rivers have been the material carrier of local culture to maintain the sense of place. Moreover, this paper points out that the urban rivers have been an important material field where urban memory is produced by urban residents with their physical practices. In this way, urban memory could be inherited and preserved. From the perspective of material geography, this study highlights the social construction process of natural resources, reconsiders the interactive relationship between human beings and natural resources, and re-thinks the ways for tackling the relations between urban development and natural resources. Accordingly, this paper responds empirically from the perspective of cultural geography from "materialism" to "cultural representation" and then goes back to "re-materialism", as the review of the two core concepts of "material" and "culture". In practical terms, this paper discusses the interaction between urban residents and urban nature, which provides some reference for building a healthy city and for the development of urban reproduction.

Key words: the social construction of nature, material geography, urban memory, urban river, visual methods