Tag Archives: hutongs

Space modernization and social interaction

Yang, Qingqing (2015). Space modernization and social interaction : a comparative study of living space in Beijing. Berlin ; Heidelberg : Springer. XVII-152 p. ISBN : SBN 978-3-662-44348-4.

This book concerns the Beijing Hutong and changing perceptions of space, of social relations and of self, as processes of urban redevelopment remove Hutong dwellers from their traditional homes to new high-rise apartments. It addresses questions of how space is humanly built and transformed, classified and differentiated, and most importantly how space is perceived and experienced. This study elaborates and expands Lefebvre’s “trialectic” of space on a theoretical level. The ethnography presented is a conversation with Tim Ingold’s argument about “empty space”. This research employs the ethnographic technique of participant-observation to secure a finely textured, detailed and micro-social account of local experience. Then, these micro-social insights are contextualized within macro-social structures of Chinese modernism by speaking to geographical concerns, orientalism and history.

More information on Springer


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Hutong vs. highrise: A photo essay on China’s radical urban changes

Beijing is one of the earliest still-existant cities planned around a grid: the old city is organized around a chessboard-like matrix of alleys, known as hutong, that date back at least a millenium. But as developers in Beijing scramble to built modern towers in the urban core, hutong are disappearing.

German photographer Christopher Domakis has made it his business to document them. Domakis spent three months in China earlier this year, and during his stay, he ended up photographing dozens of hutong, documenting the narrow, centuries-old alleys and corridors as he ran across them. He also traveled widely throughout other Chinese cities, documenting the construction of hundreds of new towers.

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Jacqueline Nivard

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

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