In a series of responses to E.J. Eitel’s Europe in China: The History of Hongkong from the Beginning to the Year 1882, I read within and against the emergence of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. I am not so much interested in providing a comprehensive history of the SEZ as I am in tracking Shen Kong, a form post-Mao post-coloniality that is one of the roots of the Belt and Road initiative. As I read, I note associations that link contemporary Shenzhen and colonial Hong Kong. In those flashes of awareness, the norms and forms of contemporary global restructuring make uncanny and distressing sense. Page citations are noted in parentheses and refer to the 1895 edition of Europe in China.
Sex in the Chasm Continue reading
Shenzhen Speed has been taken up as a metaphor to describe the pace of life in the city, including the velocity at which buses race through the city. According to friends, Shenzhen buses cover more ground in less time than do buses in their hometowns, where apparently they meander from stop to stop and can take hours to cross an entire city. In contrast, in Shenzhen, crosstown buses make several loops in a day. However, as metaphor “Shenzhen Speed” may distort more than it illuminates the history of the city. Continue reading
The problem with an issue like APEC blue is that it reads as if an authoritarian government can clean up the skies to impress visiting dignities by inconveniencing working class Beijingers and not be bothered to actually work for sustainable options. As such, this whole cleanup/mess easily slips into cultural mudslinging as if we were not talking a global economic system in which environmental quality is one of the perks of status. In such a system it makes sense that what is a “right” in one part of the system, becomes a luxury and political tool in another. Nevertheless, today I’m feeling hopeful because when we do turn off our factories and stop driving, the world heals. We just need sustainable reasons to do so. Continue reading