in lieu of a methodology

i’ve been thinking about the implicit methodology structuring entries to this blog. usually i go out on somewhat directed walks (where haven’t i been in a while? what’s new in shenzhen? being the two most common questions i ask myself. a third: what’s nearby that i can visit in the hour i have before a meeting…). i take pictures, i talk to people i meet, i play with the images, and then post with commentary. the commentary grows out of the infrastructures that have enabled me to inhabit shenzhen. my apartment in tianmian, my positions at green oasis and shenzhen university, the circle of friends i’ve cultivated. there is no longterm plan, rather a sense that the unfolding of the city will itself bring what is important to light.

i actually enjoy the process. and yet.

lately i have been trying to organize these thoughts into something resembling an academic presentation. re-working the pictures, re-membering the walks, and re-contextualizing the conversations present interesting challenges and ethical conundrums. it’s not so much what i didn’t ask or didn’t do; these absences seem somehow fillable. it’s rather that which cannot be printed which haunts me. thirteen years after arriving in shenzhen, i’ve learned to distinguish between what can be said and printed, what can be said and not printed, and what can’t be said, but lumbers about the conversation anyway. i am also acutely aware of the limits to my ability to make distinctions because i don’t know all that much. consequently, i’ve come to realize that much of my blog is an effort to get around or blur or stretch those borders into a different kind of understanding that may or may not fit into what i think an academic presentation “should” be…

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