Space to maneuver: collective strategies of indigenous villagers in the urbanizing region of northwestern China

Jing Song*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    The national project of opening up Western China has led to urban sprawl in China’s inland areas. However, limited attention has been paid to the localization of urbanization in Northwestern China, or the means by which villagers express their indigenous economic power by contesting spatial forms of development. This study builds on research on local collectivism to investigate strategies used by grassroots collectives to reconstruct the spatially bounded economic power of indigenous residents and create space to maneuver in the new urban landscape. Among these strategies are self-development projects, such as the construction of community housing and agricultural greenhouses. These spatial strategies are not only shaped by the distinctive policy and market environment of Northwestern China, but they vary within the region. This study investigates two inland villages in the outskirts of Yinchuan. At the time of the study, one of the villages had been absorbed into the urban area, and the other was farther away from the urban center and thus less affected by land development and urban sprawl. The findings suggest that the collective strategies implemented in villages in Northwestern China in response to land development vary with the strength of grassroots leadership, the desirability of the place, and the composition of incoming residents.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)362-380
    Number of pages19
    JournalEurasian Geography and Economics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2014

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Economics and Econometrics

    User-Defined Keywords

    • collective strategies
    • land development
    • Northwestern China
    • urbanization


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