What you’ll see in the videos below is part of Dengfeng (登峰村)—an “urban village” (城中村) that looks more like a rundown neighbourhood than a village. Dengfeng is one of the hundreds of villages that in the last few decades have been engulfed by Guangzhou’s booming urban expansion. Historically, China’s internal migrants have tended to congregate in the ‘relatively marginal’ settings of these urban villages, where the costs of living are lower. As Guangzhou’s re-articulation into the global economy took hold, Dengfeng’s strategic geographical location (a short walk from Guangzhou Railway Station and across from Tianxiu Building (天秀大厦)—a centre for Chinese, Middle Eastern and African import-export activities), made it a centre not only for translocal but also for transnational exchanges. Over the last 15 years, the whole area has been radically transformed as a consequence of the constant presence and recurrence of individuals from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, and by their interactions with the continuous transprovincial flow of internal migrants from the Chinese hinterland.
These are fragments of a work-in-progress part of the Open City project, a documentary series exploring the lives of diasporic subjects in Asia. Directed by Kim Soyoung and Kang Jinseok. As you can see, the so-called ‘Chocolate City’ is not really a ‘Chocolate City’ and more of a multiethnic urban (transnational) space.