Social and spatial governance: the history of enclosed neighborhoods in urban China

Mengbi Li, Jing Xie

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


COVID-19 calls for a new understanding of urban landscape and associated living. As an emerging topic, lockdown urbanism involves an unpredictable future where lockdown or quarantine may be a come and go new normal for everyday practice, but the topic itself seems to have escaped historical inquiry. This paper attempts to answer why the strict lockdown is suitable for China by revealing a long and complex history of urbanization and its social and administrative organization. The urban fabric is characterized by a system of urban patterns: enclosed communities, the spatial layout and service distribution of the neighborhood, and the formation of the center. It was also animated by daily ritualistic practices, such as the control of time, quotidian lockdown practice (yejin), and individual ties within the enclosed neighborhood. This paper contributes to a better understanding of the deep history of urban form and the order and logic behind lockdown urbanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Urban History
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2021


  • COVID-19
  • lockdown urbanism
  • neighborhood
  • yejin
  • urban China


Dive into the research topics of 'Social and spatial governance: the history of enclosed neighborhoods in urban China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this