cutting edge: shekou and the construction of the global order

On October 27, Handshake 302 welcomed 15 Shenzhen people to participate in the second chapter of “Urban Flesh and Bones”–Shekou: Globalized Geographies. Our walk traced the original coastline of old Shekou and made several stops in the landfilled gardens of new Shekou. terms, Walking along the coastline of the Old Shekou reminds us that the “local” Shekou is actually composed of important elements such as international connectivity, industrialization, business culture and personal mobility.

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shenzhen wetlands

You may not be aware that there is a wetlands conservation area in downtown Shenzhen. Tucked away between Window of the World, Baishizhou, and the Binhai Expressway, the wetlands boasts the last bit of original coastline of Shenzhen Bay. Indeed, once upon a time, it was a guarded border. The city uses this small piece of land as a living classroom, inviting limited numbers of people in to learn about conservation and local ecology.

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mission hills…guanlan

The distinction between the golf course (or “high ball field – 高球场” as it is now abbreviated) and the nearby urban villages is clearer in English than in Chinese, because the gulf course is known as Guanlan Lake High Ball Field, while the surround area is simply “Guanlan.” These fuzzy language borders matter. I know, for example, many Chinese people who use English translation to more strongly express ideas and aspirations that remain muted in Putonghua. I will be exploring these tensions–between art and craft, between hand and machine, between service and consumption, and between local and outsider–over the next two months as a participant in the Guanlan Mission Hills International Material Art Camp. Below are impressions from my first few days walking the area.

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generations, again

The other day over lunch, a good friend expounded on the characteristics that distinguish children born in the 80s, 90s, and 00s based on what she understood of their parents, who were born in the 50s, 60s, and 70s respectively. Continue reading

Singleton Lunch @Handshake 302

“Singleton Lunch” is a thought experiment with food. Handshake 302 invites participants to prepare a meal for 4 to 6 people (the average size of a household). We provide rice, oil, seasoning, bowls, water and electricity. We give the chef five yuan per person to purchase ingredients anywhere in Baishizhou. The chef uses these ingredients to prepare a meal. During the meal, the chef leads a discussion about the challenges of making a home in Shenzhen. In other words, “Singleton Lunch” asks people to share their stories about settling down in a city, which is famous as a destination for unmarried migrants. Continue reading

what just happened?

—-  国民党税多,共产党会多  (“The KMT has high taxes and the CPC has many meetings” was popular description of the difference between the Nationalists and the Communists during the War Against Japan. )

On the morning of September 27, 2018, I attended the ten (!) keynote addresses of the International Think Tank Forum in Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening-up (and yes, as far as I can tell, Shenzhen has shifted its translation of “reform and opening” to “reform and opening-up”). The Counsellor’s Office of the State Council and the Shenzhen Municipal Committee of the CPC and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government hosted the event, which was organized by the Development Research Center of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government. So a big deal. And there I was in the midst of all those policy advisors wondering, what’s actually going on here?  Continue reading

more on urban villages from the V&A

Just recently, I stumbled upon me, Fu Na and Huang Weiwen talking about urban villages. The video was part of Unidentified Acts of Design, an exhibition and series of eight films. The films are worth checking out again, if only because the city has already changed. To find out more about the V&A’s work in China vam.ac.uk/shekou