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Serial Article

DOI data
DOI 10.23791/553839

Journal Data

Full Title
Pacific Geographies
Abbreviated Title
Publisher (01) Association of Pacific Studies
Country of publication Germany (DE)
ISSN 2199-9104
DOI 10.23791/0
Product Form Online Journal (JD)

Journal Issue Data
Journal Issue Number 55
Journal Issue Date (YYYY) 2021
Serial Article Data
Title Beijing from Below - Stories of Marginal Lives in the Capital‘s Center Author: Harriet Evans
By (author) (A01) Britta Schmitz
Number of Pages 2
First Page 38
Last Page 39
Language of text English (eng)
Publication Date (YYYY) 2021
Main description (01)
This review discusses Harriet Evans’s book „Beijing from Below - Stories of Marginal Lives in the Capital‘s Center“ in which the author traces the social, economic, and architectural transformation of Beijing’s Dashalar district. Dashalar street, which gave name to the district, lies just South of Tian’anmen Square, China’s center of power and often seen as the quintessence of old Beijing. Since the 1950s the area fell more and more into disrepair, following intense densification due to the influx of outsiders (外地人) and years of neglect by the original residents. Uncertain land tenure after the communist revolution in 1949 and restructuring of space as a result of the economic reforms of the 1980s lead to the emergence of dazayuan (大杂院 - “big, cluttered courtyards”): Housing compounds occupied by different families, many of them living in only one room without running water, toilet or kitchen. In the early 2000s, the possible former glory of the buildings which had been teahouses, brothels, or merchant homes was long gone - the district became an ever-worsening eyesore to the municipal government, leading to a complete makeover, and consequently to forced relocation of most of the inhabitants. The author, Harriet Evans, visited the hutong (alleyway) and surrounding district regularly from 2007 to 2014, and the results of her anthropological fieldwork are gathered in this book published in 2020 by Duke University Press.