entrepreneur dreams in baishizhou

Episode 3 of Shenzhen Book of Changes is up! Like millions of migrants, Hu Yuefu has come to Shenzhen to make a life and business for himself. We visit Baishizhou – Shenzhen’s largest urban village – to learn his story.

shenzhen book of changes 2.1

More on the complexities of the situation of Chinese migrant labor and its similarities to the situation of illegal immigrants in the United States.

fuyong new village / bao’an road

It’s instructive to jump off the number 11 subway line, once its passed the airport station. In Bao’an District, the No 11 line runs parallel to Bao’an Road, which delineates the inner border between the older, historic village settlements and their industrial parks. East of Bao’an Road, one heads toward the Pearl River, land reclamation, and scattered reminders of this deeper history. West of Bao’an Road, one heads through large industrial parks toward National expressway G107, which was the road that first connected the original Special Zone to Guangzhou via Songgang (images of a 2008 walk, here). At Nantou Checkpoint, National Highway 107 becomes Shannan Road and a fast track to the inner district real estate boom. Continue reading

grass and flowers: dalang

Yesterday at the Dalang Youth Dream Center, we created a large mural/graffiti image on the public steps/bench. It is a two-picture work: from the front it simply says “youth”, but from the upper levels of the dormitory, it is possible to see the larger images of flowers and cartoon monsters playing in the grass. Walking the steps gives even more chances for discovery. We were amazingly lucky with the weather; just as we finished, the skies let loose a major thunder storm. Below, a slideshow that documents the process.

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of migrants and immigrants, shenzheners and locals: some definitions

Talking about migrant workers in China (and throughout the world’s booming mega-cities) usually means “rural to urban migration”. However, this is not the case in Shenzhen, where “urban to urban immigration” has been as fundamental to the city’s success and growth. Indeed, the diversity of Shenzhen’s migrant population complicates easy understanding of what it means to be a Shenzhener, let alone academic debates about urban belonging and ideologies of exclusion. Continue reading

ma hongjie’s photography

Over the past 11 years, photographer Ma Hongjie’s (马宏杰) has been photographing Chinese families and all their possessions, like the image of a Home on the Yellow River, Huayuankou Town, Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, above. On his blog, Ma said that an album of this work, titled The Family Belongings of Chinese People will be available the end of his month. The blog is primarily in Chinese, but the images–mostly from rural areas and the west of China–speak for themselves. For example, his photo-essays on monkey trainers and their monkeys, or on how Guo Fucheng makes calligraphy brushes.

Continue reading

horton hears a migrant worker

In order to grasp the moralities and consequences of social non-existence, and incidentally to demonstrate that non-existence partially registered in American understandings of its Cold War conundrums, especially our self-envisioned role in Asia, one could do worse than a close reading of Horton Hears a Who, which was published in 1954, roughly a decade after Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel had transitioned from drawing editorial cartoons to writing politically charged children’s books. Continue reading