Cosmic Infrastructure

Whether taken by rail or by road, the journey up the narrow gorges and blasted passageways that link the Chinese interior to Xining city, located at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, is a study in shades of browns, yellows, and dull greens. The landscape flattens out when the Plateau is finally reached. Amid […]

Invisible Labouring Bodies: Waste Work as Infrastructure in China

Recent investments in municipal waste infrastructure in China can be understood as a part of a broader effort by the state to build modern green cities that symbolise development. In concrete terms, the state’s approach to modern waste infrastructure has meant building waste-to-energy (WTE) incinerators and promoting citizen recycling programmes. In Guangzhou, where my research […]

Between Poetics and Utility: Landscape Infrastructure in China

‘You use a literal translation of landscape architecture in Hong Kong!’ Colleagues from mainland China often exclaim after dutifully examining my business card. Indeed, the use of the phrase 园境建筑 (yuan jing jianzhu) in Hong Kong betrays its British origins and North American influence. Yuan can be translated into park or garden, jing is the […]

Digital Infrastructure in the Chinese Register

There is now a large body of scholarship—broadly centred on the field of science and technology studies (STS)—concerning ‘digital’ or ‘information’ infrastructures. One strand of this intellectual genealogy leads back to the work of Langdon Winner in the early 1980s. Winner (1980) argued that ‘artefacts have politics’—that all technologies, from forks to nuclear power stations, […]

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 […]

Queer History, Culture, and Activism in China: A Conversation with He Xiaopei

He Xiaopei is a leading queer feminist filmmaker, activist, and director of Pink Space (粉色空间), a Beijing-based NGO dedicated to promoting sexual rights and gender equality. Her films include The Lucky One (宠儿, 2012), Our Marriages: Lesbians Marry Gay Men (奇缘一生, 2013), Yvo and Chrissy (如此生活, 2017), and Playmates (玩伴, 2019). As one of China’s […]

Accidental Activists: The Resistance of the ‘709’ Wives

The crackdown of 9 July 2015 saw hundreds of lawyers and legal activists called in by the police or official lawyers’ associations for questioning. While many were released in a matter of hours or days, a number disappeared into China’s system of ‘residential surveillance in a designated location’. In this essay, Nicola Macbean details how the wives of these lawyers have coped with the detention of their husbands and how they have been experimenting with new forms of campaigning that draw strength from Chinese tradition.

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