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Negotiating place and identity after change of administrative division

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Abstract:

Place identity is a fluid construction that is in a constant dynamics of re-imagination. Changes in economic, social, cultural and political conditions lead individual and groups to re-imagine and rebuild their place-based identity. One major force that causes people's interruption in place identity is the rationalizing spatial process that reduces place into abstract space that is open to reorganization. In this paper, we investigate the interruption, reconfirmation and renegotiation of the place-based identity of local residents of the former municipal district of Dongshan, Guangzhou, China, after the official administrative establishment of Dongshan was cancelled by the Guangzhou municipal authority in 2005. Thirty-six in-depth interviews were conducted, and it is found that local Dongshan residents' place identity had generally been enhanced, rather than vitiated, after the 2005 change of administrative division, while discourses about interruptions in their place identity fill up their narratives. Although sensing obvious interruption in place-based identity, local Dongshan residents re-imagined the meanings of the place of Dongshan to build up culturally delimited borders that were conditioned by the name Dongshan, and this re-imagined place-based identity results from the local residents' renegotiation about what the place of Dongshan is and how their identities are connected to the place.

Keywords: administrative division; identity; place; re-imagination

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14649365.2011.545140

Affiliations: 1: Center for Cultural Industry and Cultural Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China,School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China 2: School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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