In post-socialist China, gated communities have become conspicuous symbols of affluence for the country’s rising middle class amid the so-called “economic miracle.” However, Chinese cities also have many not-so-visible neighborhoods with mostly low-income migrant workers from the countryside that are physically being gated off in the name of urban beautification and social management. This talk uses a research-driven visual project to examine the systematic dispossession, exploitation, and social discrimination that take place in these forgotten urban sites.
Tong Lam is a historian and visual artist. His research interests include modern and contemporary China, technoscience, media and spectacle, cities, colonialism, and nationalism. As a visual artist, he uses photographic and cinematographic techniques to document China’s hysterical growth, and to analyze the debris of history in industrial and post-industrial societies. He is the author of A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 (2011), and the photo-essay book Abandoned Futures (2013). He received his PhD in History from the University of Chicago and is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto.
Sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the Visual Arts Department; the History Department; the Asian Studies Program; and the Global Studies Department.
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