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just what aren’t we seeing?

Currently circulating on WeChat news that apparently on May 20, 2015 China blocked Chinese Wikipedia, begging question du jour: just what triggered the block? (This is a serious question, if you know, please share). To date, 16 of the top 30 English language websites have been blocked.  Continue reading

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of migrants and immigrants, shenzheners and locals: some definitions

Talking about migrant workers in China (and throughout the world’s booming mega-cities) usually means “rural to urban migration”. However, this is not the case in Shenzhen, where “urban to urban immigration” has been as fundamental to the city’s success and growth. Indeed, the diversity of Shenzhen’s migrant population complicates easy understanding of what it means to be a Shenzhener, let alone academic debates about urban belonging and ideologies of exclusion. Continue reading

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making noodles, deskilling labor

When I was young, I heard Johnny Cash singing about John Henry–the American version of man versus machine. However, an informercial about the Shandong style noodle-bot (below) reminds us that we’re talking about the social organization and reproduction of skilled labor.  Continue reading

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handshake 302: victory lap!

Yesterday, Handshake 302 won the first annual Shenzhen Creative Design Award in the category of creative synthesis. The other five categories included: architecture/space; product development; fashion; visual communication, and; interactive design. The awards recognized social design as an important element of design in general. The overall winners for “special contribution” included the Shenzhen based Ancient Village Network that provides technical and other support for village preservation and the OCT market, which provides young designers and artists a rent-free stalls to sell their products on weekends.  Continue reading

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boardwalk shenzhen: jiaochangwei booms

Almost one year ago, I posted on the development of Jiaochangwei, which is probably best understood as Atlantic City or Coney Island on speed, Shenzhen speed. Continue reading

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ma hongjie’s photography

Over the past 11 years, photographer Ma Hongjie’s (马宏杰) has been photographing Chinese families and all their possessions, like the image of a Home on the Yellow River, Huayuankou Town, Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, above. On his blog, Ma said that an album of this work, titled The Family Belongings of Chinese People will be available the end of his month. The blog is primarily in Chinese, but the images–mostly from rural areas and the west of China–speak for themselves. For example, his photo-essays on monkey trainers and their monkeys, or on how Guo Fucheng makes calligraphy brushes.

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When I first saw the above advertisement for DJI, one of the world’s leading producers of drones, I balked. It seemed to me to be a picture that celebrated spying on the private and unaccessible mansions of the all-too-rich. So, given the unreliability of my American gut reactions in China, I asked the young women standing next to me, “What do you see in that advertisement?” She responded, “a pretty landscape.” I was like, “What about the dock? The big mansion? The coastline that resembles Newport’s?” She looked at the advert again, nodded, and then tentatively added, “We see things differently because of cultural difference.” Continue reading