historic ironies: the fanshen metro station, shenzhen

Fanshen is one of the recently opened Baoan District subway stations. Like Daxin (in Nanshan), Fanshen was the name of one of the Communes in Baoan County and now refers to the general area where commune headquarters once stood. Literally, 翻身 (fān shēn)means to turn over. In the context of the Chinese Revolution, fanshen referred to the liberation of peasants from feudal obligations by transferring rights to land and draft animals from local gentry and rich peasants. Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village by William Hinton remains one of the best introductions to the reasons for and implementation of Maoist land reform.

Along Fanshen Road, I also stumbled upon Anle Second Brigade New Village (安乐二队新村), a place name that melds traditional values (安乐 means peace and happiness), Maoist production (小队 small production brigades based on village divisions), and early Shenzhen reforms (新村 new villages were the first local incarnation of the household responsibility system; only as urban area spread to surround them did new villages become “villages in the city (城中村)”). Continue reading