Long ago, when Handshake 302 was in Baishizhou and Baishizhou was the city’s most icon urban village, we ran a residency program. The first iteration of the residency was “Village Hack.” Several years ago, I reflected on the program and what it taught us about how Shenzheners were formed (paper can be downloaded, below).
The past two years have remade urban villages in ways that we do not yet clearly see. Our eviction from Baishizhou, the fact that we left Xiasha in 2020 during the first Covid-19 outbreak and the city’s new normal of graduated management–all have contributed to ongoing reorganization of the city, its definitions of formality and informality, and the ways in which the poor and new residents are simultaneously integrated into and excluded from the city.
The first draft of the paper, “The Handshake 302 Village Hack Residency” was written circa 2015-16, and only published in 2019. Long-ago thoughts in an already outdated account of Baishizhou. But perhaps that’s important, the essay (like bloggy efforts to document something about the city in real time) is testimony of a sort: once upon a time, the city lived otherwise.