Futures and Ruins: The Politics, Aesthetics, and Temporality of Infrastructure

Future and ruin are two intricately linked concepts. Especially in the age of a growing planetary crisis, conceptualising the future often anticipates ruination whereas ruins are symbols of abandoned futures. Nowhere is this paradox manifested more profoundly than in China’s recent frenetic development. In less than four decades, China has transformed from a predominately agrarian […]

What Kind of Model? Thinking about the Special Economic Zone and the Socialisty City

Looking through the lens of the economic zone seems eminently fruitful for conceptualising the infrastructural logic of socio-spatial transformation that has been the result of China’s economic growth in the last 40 years. Since China embraced and adapted the zone model as a site for production of exports and accumulation of capital in the 1980s, […]

China Made: Infrastructural Thinking in a Chinese Register

The brief essays in this collection emerged out of a 2018 workshop hosted by the China Made project—a collaboration between the University of Colorado’s Center for Asian Studies and the Hong Kong Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. We sought to explore what we might learn when we look […]

Poor Attitudes towards the Poor: Conceptions of Poverty among the Rich and Powerful in China

In primary school, nearly every Chinese child reads Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Match Girl’, a short story that is supposed to foster empathy for the poor. Chinese children also read Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk, a novel that explains that poor people are noble, kind, and compassionate, always willing to help others despite their tremendous difficulties […]

Painting in Grey and Permeating Gaps: Changing the Space for Chinese NGOs

‘Speak this clearly: the development goal for Chinese society is a Marxist social community; it is not a Western civil society of state-society opposition.’ This comes from a recent article originally published on the public WeChat account of a central academy (CPPCC Daily 2019). The academy is charged with training people from the ‘democratic parties’, […]

Good and Bad Muslims in Xinjiang

A huge network of internment camps for those displaying the slightest sign of ‘extremism’, where, according to some ex-detainees, Muslims are encouraged to renounce their religion. Closure and demolition of mosques, with intense surveillance of those still functioning. Severe restrictions on the observance of ritual fasting, enough to dissuade all but the most devoted to […]

The 996.ICU Movement in China: Changing Employment Relations and Labour Agency in the Tech Industry

Since its launch on 26 March 2019, the online protest 996.ICU has attracted enormous attention, giving voice to the growing resentment against long working hours in China’s tech industry and eliciting widespread sympathy. The 996.ICU project was initiated by an anonymous user on GitHub, a Microsoft-owned code-sharing online community with more than 20 million users. […]

Orwell in the Chinese Classroom

This is the translation of a blog post published on 1 May 2019 by an anonymous Chinese student. For obvious reasons, we were unable to confirm the identity of the writer, but the account resonates with other testimonies from students at Peking University that appeared in the public record or which we have heard personally, […]

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