An aerial view of Xiancun, one of the many urban villages in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province

Unreal Estate and China’s Collective Unconscious

An aerial view of Xiancun, one of the many urban villages in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province

During the socialist era, villages were mostly associated with farming, and village land rights were collectively owned. As a result, many villages on the fringes of the former city boundaries have not been legally and administratively integrated into the city, even though their lands are no longer used for farming. Instead, as these villages grow alongside the expanding cities, each of them has become an enclave or “urban village” with its own experience and pattern of urbanization that does not follow the rest of the urban grid. In the southern city of Guangzhou, Xiancun is one such example. 

Xiancun, Guangdong 2013