State territorialization, neoliberal governmentality : the remaking of Dafen oil painting village, Shenzhen, China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-728
Journal / PublicationUrban Geography
Issue number5
Online published2 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


After being showcased during Shanghai EXPO2010, Dafen village has been put forward as an example of “best practice” governance that has transformed a backward urban village into an art cluster. Behind this glorified image is a continuously re-constructed social landscape. In this study, we adopt the approach of state territorialization, drawing insights from the Foucauldian concept of governmentality as disposition of things—in particular people and their relations to land. At issue here is how the dynamic process of territorialization, combined with the Chinese version of moral citizenship, serves the remaking of subjects, landscape, and their relations. In Dafen village, the experiment of fabricating conditioned welfare within China’s welfare system conjures up a new hukou arrangement and new forms of inclusion and exclusion. By exercising the technology of self-regulation, the state seeks temporal and fragile alignments with selected social groups. The outcomes are contingent and frequently take the form of new configurations of power.

Research Area(s)

  • China, cultural cluster, governmentality, moral citizenship, Territorialization