what kind of public space is the city of shenzhen?

I think about this question, a lot. Because there are two ways of being public: providing public services and allowing for critical public spaces. Sometimes, when my mind drifts into thoughts about chimerica, I wonder if the US has critical public spaces because it refuses basic public services to many of its people, while China lacks robust critical spaces because its so busy trying to secure public services for its residents, urban and rural. Priorities, right? Anyway, thoughts below (full citation: The Emerging Public Realm of the Greater Bay Area, Miodrag Mitrašinović and Timothy Jachna, eds., Routledge, 2021, chapter 7.):

the village hack residency

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).

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the new normal?

Shenzhen’s zero-Covid management system has been integrated into online maps of the city. Searching for “Shangsha Village” on my Gaode Map app (高德地图). On the map, three classes of lockdown have been clearly marked in a modified traffic light system. Red is for Locked down, no entry no exit (封 不进不出); Orange is for Control, only entries no exits (管 只进不出), and; Yellow is for Prevention a corona test is necessary for entries and exits (出入需核算).

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tangyan, shangsha: civilized relocations

If you’ve been following the 2022 omicron outbreak in Shenzhen, then you’re aware that Tangyan Village, Shangsha (上沙塘宴村) has been one of the city’s hotspots, continuously generating positive test results. Indeed, since human factors in transmission have been controlled, the next hypothesis is environmental factors. Consequently, on March 17, 2022, the Futian Command Center (福田区新型冠状病毒肺炎疫情防控指挥部) notified residents of designated buildings in Tangyan that they would be relocated for 14 days quarantine and observation (notification #84 第84通告). While residents are quarantined, their building, its water mains and the surrounding area will be disinfected.

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…this is now

Two months ago, I walked from the old Bao’an urban center to Shanghe Village. I first walked this area in 2007, taking pictures of a village renewal project, which focused on demolishing and upgrading the old village settlement. The area exemplifies the first generation of formal upgrades that occurred in the mid-2000s, beginning after rural urbanization was completed in 2004–large public spaces, residential towers, and newly constituted rural identities, comprising the village stock-holding limited company, Qing-era ancestral halls and temples. In the background, traces of the village’s manufacturing history are still visible.

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is the era of shenzhen urban villages over?

This is a speculative post about something that has been niggling at the back of my mind this past year. Or at least since I started walking around Shenzhen after COVID restrictions lifted circa April 2020; I think the era of urban villages in Shenzhen has ended.

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SZ8X80108//The_Myriad_Transformations//Cut and Pastiche: Another City

“Cut and Pastiche” has played with the logic of montage in order to tease out the experiences and logics that comprised the Special Zone. Montage helps us understand the process because “Shenzhen” comprises diverse elements–factories and work units, migrants and locals, tradition and IT, brackish water and containers–which were already in the world, but needed to be reorganized in order for China to achieve its goal to modernize. Quickly.

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impressions from the other foxconn village

This is another “not all villages are equal” note, this time about access to the Guanlan Foxconn campus, which is surrounded by urban villages. These villages have differently benefited from the world’s number one maker of electronics. At the end of 2018, for example, Dashuikeng (大水坑) made international news as Vanke prepared to top-down gentrify it. Located just outside the southern entrance to the Guanlan Foxconn campus, Dashuikeng has provided more than inexpensive housing for company workers; it also offers housing for married workers, workers who want respite from company management, and workers who want more privacy. In contrast, while Jutang Community (桔塘社区) abuts Dashuikeng, nevertheless, it is not conveniently located near either of the campus’ two gates. This has meant that the neighborhoods that comprise Jutang are less commercialized, with much lower end housing available for the company’s lowest paid workers–truly just a place to sleep. Jutang occupies over 4.5 square kilometers and has a population of 40,000 people. My impressions, below:

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SZ8X80106//The_Myriad_Transformations//Cut and Pastiche: That was then…

I know, you’re asking yourself: how is it already 2019? The date pounds like a migraine because once again we’re in the middle of a China-history countdown: 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, 60th anniversary of the start of the great leap forward famine, 50th anniversary of the Sino-Soviet border conflict, 40th anniversary of the “First Blast” of Reform and Opening chez Shekou, 30th anniversary of the Tian’anmen democracy movement, 20th anniversary of the crackdown against Falungong, and the 10th anniversary of Shenzhen’s decision to upgrade its “dirty, chaotic, and substandard (脏乱差)” urban villages. Continue reading

SZ8X80102//The_Myriad_Transformations//Cut and Pastiche: Of Global Bullies and Their Girlfriends

In 2006, I visited Dafen Oil Painting Village for the first time. This was several years before Dafen became an important landmark–both in and outside China–in the Shenzhen imaginary. This was also over a decade before the metro system connected Dafen to downtown. In fact, even the road signs reflected the segregation between “Shenzhen” and the rest of the city. Consequently, the first time I visited Dafen I experienced it as a typical urban village that produced an atypical product.

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In 2006, this road sign outside the main entrance to Dafen Oil Painting Village still gave directions to four market towns–Bantian, Longhua, Shiyan, and Longgang–as well as to “Shenzhen,” which referred to the Luohu “Downtown” area.

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