Shenzhen+China, Utopias+Dystopias Conference

Those in the Boston Area, please join us for the Shenzhen+China, Utopias+Dystopias Conference. Program details, here.

Time: Saturday, March 12, 2011, 09:30-16:30

Location: MIT Department of Architecture, Building 7: Audio Visual Theater (7-431)

Topic: In 1979 when the People’s Republic of China embarked on its current course of economic liberalization, the city of Shenzhen was created as a new model city for policy experimentation and global contact. Shenzhen’s very existence amounted to a tacit acknowledgement of the failures of socialism to provide for the communist society once promised, and a host of new institutions, laws, and opportunities were assembled alongside China’s first skyscrapers and amusement parks. Three decades later, while the promises of post-socialist plenty and international parity have been achieved in many respects, Shenzhen remains a model of China’s recent economic achievements but has also come to represent a dystopia of industrialization and urbanization. Unequal citizenship, quasi-legality, corruption, exploitation, and the rebirth of the propaganda apparatus closely accompany Shenzhen’s success and render its achievements widely questioned. The inequities brought upon by a fast-developing China is intensified outside the PRC, where growing Chinese economic strength is more often than not posed as a threat to everything from liberal democracy to environmental protection to human rights. This conference convenes scholars in humanities and social science whose newest research examines the utopian and dystopian dynamics of the Chinese reform period in Shenzhen and beyond. Employing historical and comparative perspectives in the areas of health, labor, law, art, and urbanism, we examine the historical and transnational trajectories of the enormous changes within contemporary Chinese society as represented first, in Shenzhen’s rise, and second, in the global imagination of China’s post-socialist future.

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