China’s urban housing demolition

Cheuk Yuet Ho1, 2013, Exit, or evict: Re-grounding rights in needs in China’s urban housing demolition, Asian Anthropology, Vol.12, No.2, 141–155.

This report depicts narratives of individuals defying eviction orders in urban neighborhood dwellings in Chongqing, China. Resisting households are called “nail
householders;” their rationales and subjectivities in resisting demolition foreground a social and ideological regime change increasingly tuned to private property rights’
centrality. I address the primacy of “need” as a defining feature of both communism and socialism, and its practical and theoretical bearing on legitimizing neosocialist
governance.I argue that an objective diagnosis in reclaiming the significance of need’s due place in history and the present social reality is imperative for an accurate
ethnographic reading of how ordinary Chinese people practice their rights in an era of property dispossession and counter-dispossession.

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Cheuk Yuet Ho, 2013, Bargaining demolition in China: A practice of distrust, Critique of Anthropology, Vol. 33 no. 4 412-428.

This paper presents multivocal exchanges between evictees and frontline demolition personnel regarding urban housing demolition in China. I discovered that evictees and evictors alike stick to the official rules but contest vigorously the interpretation, each in accordance with their tacit understanding of the norm of practising demolition and particular tactics of bending the rules of compensation. This paper provides a detailed, rarely available ethnographic record of the encounters between evictees and evictors, and contributes to the study of how agents strategise and interact within a habitus of micro-power relationships. It is concluded that the agency of various players is simultaneously reproducing the social structure but paradoxically working to sabotage the very structure within which they practice.

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Cite this blog post
Jacqueline Nivard (2014, February 15). China’s urban housing demolition. URBACHINA. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from

  1. University of Cambridge, UK []

Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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