Organized in part as a travel guide - with many colorful maps, photos and drawings - this book profiles a wide range of Chinese factory towns producing everything from cars to toys to circuit boards. 

REVIEWS of Factory Towns of South China

"Factory Towns of South China, edited by Stefan Al, contributes a visual and cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the rapid urbanization and industrialization of South China."
The China Journal

"In Factory Towns of South China, editor Stefan Al provides an in-depth guide to the changed and changing landscape of the PRD, adding all-important detail to what many experience only through media sound bites."
Architectural Record

"This imaginative guide examines the nuts and bolts behind an astonishing economic story"
Time Out Hong Kong

Factory Towns of South China: An Illustrated Guidebook

Factory Towns of South China: An Illustrated Guidebook


Factory Towns of South China gives an inside view within the factory compounds of the “world’s factory”. Most consumer products come primarily from the Pearl River Delta, the “factory of the world” with the largest industrial region on earth.The delta has attracted millions of poor rural residents to settle in factory towns in hopes for a better life. Some function as self-contained cities, with their own fire brigade, hospital, bank, TV station and as many as half a million workers living within the compounds. Other factories are scattered in larger villages to mask their existence and evade governmental crackdowns on the production of fake consumer goods and illegal casino machines.

Contributors include David Bray, Minnie Chan, Jia-Ching Chen, Paul Chu Hoi Shan, Eli Friedman, Claudia Juhre, Laurence Liauw, Paul Lin, Ting Shi, Casey Wang, Rex Wong, and Chun Yang.

Contributing Editors: Paul Chu Hoi Shan, Alexander Giarlis, Claudia Juhre, Casey Wang

Factory Towns of South China shows us both an academic perspective and an emotional one with harsh stories and pictures about the life as a Chinese factory worker — what they eat and wear, but also how they are dealing with daily suicides and strikes. A one-of-a-kind must-read.”
The Pop Up City

“This indispensable and imaginative guide leads us into the ‘hidden abode of production’ in South China—the world’s most dynamic manufacturing center. Offering a bird eye’s view of one factory town after another, it beautifully weaves together photographs and narratives of workers, both past and present, and lays bare the nexus among architecture, space, time and living labor in all their everyday and historical richness!"
Ching Kwan Lee, professor of sociology, UCLA

“In a series of expertly written and richly illustrated essays, this volume provides a critical overview of how South China’s Pearl River Delta, with its hard-working population almost equal to Japan’s, has become the ‘world’s factory’ over the course of a single generation. The price tag in environmental degradation and human exploitation has been steep, but the delta’s ‘restless landscape’ continues to evolve, What will it look like in another 30 years? Read this book for its many fascinating insights.”
John Friedmann, professor emeritus, School of Public Affairs, UCLA

“It is very relevant to not only look at the growth of the PRD and its cities itself, but to try to understand what drove this growth. Next to the implementation of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and other political changes in China, the factories within the PRD were and continue to be among the main drivers. I congratulate HKU with this research and the outcome presented in this book.”
Rem Koolhaas, professor of architecture and urban design, Harvard University

“Factory Towns of South China is an outstanding example of what visual geography can be. It is smart, creative, engaging, and provides a multifaceted look at one of the 21st century’s
paradigmatic spaces of capitalism.”
Trevor Paglen, artist, writer, geographer

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