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double bind urbanization

At dinner last night a friend asked me, “If you had to choose between living in a 50 story building or an urban village walk-up, where would you live?” This question illustrates the kind of double bind thinking that current debates about urban villages generate. As posed, the question compels us to choose between either…

the contempt factor

The other day, while showing a group of visitors the Goodbye, Urban Villages (再见,城中村) exhibition, one asked, “Well what will they do about it?” meaning what will the residents do to prevent the forced evictions? He, from Western Europe, was grappling with the question of democracy (or not) in China. She, from Hong Kong answered…

what i realized this june 4

On June 4, 1989, I was in Japan. That year, I had been diligently learning Japanese pronunciations for Chinese characters and memorizing [subject]-time-place-object-verb sentence patterns. The Chinese democracy movement, the call for transparent and clean governance, and the military crackdown came to me filtered through Japanese television because CNN was not yet global. Only after…

bird

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

This afternoon, as I struggled out of a damp shirt in the yoga studio changing room, a woman turned to me and enthusiastically asked, “Where are you from?” “Where are you from?” I countered, recognizing her as new to a studio, where I’ve been practicing for four years. “Here,” she gestured generally behind her, “What…

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goldfish

We have skipped Spring and gone directly to Summer. We eat outdoors and feed the monstrous goldfish. Shimmering, lovely, and oh so greedy — golden, molten, liquid carp. There’s a lesson in there, but you already know.

mapping ignorance

Was conversing friends about political succession since Mao and how to interpret reports coming out of Beijing and Guangzhou with respect to Shenzhen’s political status and symbolic valence within the national imaginary. Their 15 year old daughter was at the table, politely ignoring us, when someone mentioned Hua Guofeng (华国锋). She lifted her eyes and asked, “Who?”…

rant on the state of shenzhen news

A journalist approached me for an interview on the topic, “送你一个好男人 (We’ll give you a good man)”. His newspaper is currently preparing special articles for International Women’s Day, next Thursday, March 8. I replied that my ideal man would have been a better topic for Valentine’s Day, when fantasy is given free reign and chocolate assumes its…