Subaltern Memories of the “Ghost” Street Market: Mapping the Vanishing Guishi in Tianjin

Yat Ming Loo, Yanning Xiang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


Guishi, i.e. “Ghost Market” in Chinese, is a unique type of Chinese street market or flea market. In Tianjin, guishi started as an informal street market for cheap daily use commodities around the city centre in the late 19th century. The earlier visitors of Tianjin's guishi included local slums residents, the urban poor and displaced city dwellers. The exchanges at Tianjin's guishi were a mixture of genuine business and unofficial trade, which included stolen commodities. Urban regeneration since the 1990s gradually cleared the spaces of guishi for new urban development. As a form of writing subaltern urban memories, this chapter argues that the spaces of guishi constitute an important part of the collective memory and identity – representing the memories of the subaltern social groups, the recycled-market culture and the culture of collecting – of Tianjin which are neglected by the dominant official architectural and urban histories. The chapter will present a mapping of the vanishing guishi on Xiguan Main Street and ponders on the meaning of inscribing this form of ordinary and everyday life memory of these drifting spaces of street markets such as guishi, which might have a wider reference for other Chinese cities for a more memorable and liveable city.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Art of Remembering
Subtitle of host publicationUrban Memories, Architecture and Agencies in Contemporary China
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781040015254
ISBN (Print)9781032745305
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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