demolition anxieties…

Today, I walked the village named Baishizhou, which is located south of Shennan Road and is not scheduled for demolition. This other, lesser known Baishizhou is tucked away behind Window of the World, middling housing estates, and the KK Banna Mall. Unlike the Baishizhou that is scheduled for demolition, this other, less expensive Baishizhou does not hum and pop, does not buzz with entrepreneurialism and the rush of young office workers, but rather transports us back to Shenzhen 2.0; at the turn of the millennium, most Shenzhen neighborhoods were like this: straight-forwardly residential in the middle with an outer ring of functional shops and fast food, and hardware stores that spilled into the street because the sidewalk had not yet been laid down.

Here’s the rub. When they demolished Gangxia (2009-2011), many people moved to the northern section of Baishizhou, while others found housing in villages in Bao’an and Longhua. The exodus was annoying, but relatively anxiety free; there would always be another urban village the thinking went. But common sense is no longer so optimistic. A friend who lives in Baishilong reports that his six-year old neighbor has been asking when they will have to leave. Meanwhile, young creatives who have rented studios in Wutongshan are wondering if they need to find more permanent digs and if so, does this mean abandoning the city to pursue their dreams elsewhere? These reports are from two different classes of migrant–rural migrants who have set up homes in the villages and urban migrants who have come to Shenzhen to pursue professional dreams, suggesting the extent to which housing anxiety now permeates everyday life in the city of China dreams.

Indeed, it is clear that although young migrants (high school and college graduates) come to Shenzhen and figure out how to make ends meet, by the time it is time to set up house and raise a family, they face hard choices. To stay or not to stay? And at what cost?

Impressions du jour:

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9 thoughts on “demolition anxieties…

  1. This reminds me of urban regime theory and growth machine. whatever the power structure is, tenants are predisposed to unequal access to decisions making. (Hopefully I don’t commit overgeneralization here…) I am a high school student in Shenzhen and am currently working on a research concerned with urban village redevelopment. Yep I am just doing content analysis rather than conducting field work on my own. These posts are really helpful.

  2. I knew you from a book called “baishizhou: shenzhen’s center and periphery” while I was doing some preliminary research to acquire some basic understanding about Shenzhen’s urban village. I am a senior two student in Shenzhen Middle School International Section that you may be acquianted with because I saw from the content from Page 213 of this book.

  3. I find this book from the WeChat subscription called “握手302″. I am really interested and am planning to somehow join it maybe? Yet I am stucked in my 15-20 pages research paper due on July the 27th, assigned by a project called Pioneer Academics, in which my professor is from Colorado College.

  4. I increasingly find myself detached from local residents, NGOs related with urban villages, and scholars like you in Shenzhen. This isolation from real life setting and “professional communities” (I indicates NGOs and matured researchers working on Shenzhen Urban Studies) not only prevent me from in-depth observation and lack of passionate concerns for urban village dwellers, but also limitations of insufficient proper research materials.

  5. So I am really wondering these days whether I should invigorate myself to actively interact with you…Well I think I should. It seems that you hold a speech tomorrow afternoon right?

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