dagongmei: gendered troubles in the city of dreams

Over at Made in China, Ivan Franceschini and Christian Sorace have co-edited Proletarian China: A Century of Chinese Labour, which traces the history of Chinese labor since 1898. Compiling events from the late Qing, Republican, and PRC eras, the book offers a diversity of voices and perspectives on the meaning and experience of work in China. Indeed, the brevity of each chapter allows for a comprehensive introduction into how political movements, economic restructuring and individual desires have constantly shaped and redirected the norms and forms having (or not) a job and the meaning of said job within and against a landscape of shifting national goals. Moreover, the scope of the volume allows for more refined comparison; for example, the unstable meaning of women’s labor, how technology has been mobilized inside factory walls, or even how the spatialization of labor has changed in the years from the rise of Shanghai to the socialist factories of Tianjin and then the emergence of assembly manufacturing in Shenzhen. I contributed a chapter on the moral geography of Shenzhen’s dagongmei 打工妹 during the early years of the Special Zone, mapping how the path to respectability was differently manifest in Shekou, Luohu and Bao’an.

An early and famous picture of Shenzhen dagongmei.

covid among us–essay online

I’ve provisionally thought through February and March chez Shenzhen, writing the essay, ‘Covid among Us: Viral Mobilities in Shenzhen’s Moral Geography,’ which has been published online at Made in China. I’ve converted a pdf version of the essay for easy download, below:

The Emerging Public Realm of the Greater Bay Area… book launched

I contributed a chapter to The Emerging Public Realm of the Greater Bay Area: Approaches to Public Space in a Chinese Mega-Region, which was edited by Miodrag Mitrašinović and Timothy Jachna. The book matters, not only because the GBA is one of the world’s largest mega-regions, but also because China seems to be strategically planning and developing its mega-regions. Shenzhen matters in all this because even if the GBA ranks second to the Yangzte River Delta, nevertheless, it is one of the world leaders (and first in China) for patent applications and new industries. In 2018, China Briefing published a brief introduction to China’s three leading mega-regions (YRD, GBA, and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster).

But back to the book! According to the website blurb, The Emerging Public Realm of the Greater Bay Area “assembles diverse approaches to interrogating the forms of public space and the public realm that are emerging in the context of this region’s rapid urban development in the last forty years, bringing together authors from urbanism, architecture, planning, sociology, anthropology and politics to examine innovative ways of framing and conceptualizing public space in/of the Greater Bay Area. The blend of authors’ first-hand practical experiences has created a unique cross-disciplinary book that employs public space to frame issues of planning, political control, social inclusion, participation, learning/education and appropriation in the production of everyday urbanism. In the context of the Greater Bay Area, such spaces and practices also present opportunities for reconfiguring design-driven urban practice beyond traditional interventions manifested by the design of physical objects and public amenities to the design of new social protocols, processes, infrastructures and capabilities.”

interview with huang weiwen!

Happy to have my interview with Huang Weiwen, “The Urban Planning Imaginary: Lessons from Shenzhen” included in the recently published, Shenzhen: From Factory of the World to World City from the International New Towns Institute. As you can see from the index, contributors include many folks who have been involved in thinking about, debating, and planning Shenzhen.