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Stunning Photos Of Chinas Insanely Stressful College Exam Process | Business Insider.

via Stunning Photos Of Chinas Insanely Stressful College Exam Process | Business Insider.

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If so, please don’t move it to Shijiazhuang, a city that tops the list of most polluted cities in China, if not the world. Don’t be deceived by rankings that show the city anywhere but at the top. Usually cities near or above it on the list are either part of its hinterland or downwind.

The air isn’t always bad in Shijiazhuang, but you’ll be lucky to find a day when it’s not…unless you’re my uncle and aunt, who found three miraculously clear days on their visit. Fortunately the terrible air is balanced by the welcoming and generous attitude of the great people of this city.

See this story for a discussion of the problem of pollution, a proposed solution, and some obvious objections to the idea (here is another)

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Top polluted cities in China at the moment I captured this image. Shijiazhuang is 4th, but most of the other cities on the list are either part of the SJZ’s hinterland or “downwind.”

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A rare blue sky day allowed us to capture this shot at sunset. Yes, those are apartment buildings right in the shadow of those cooling towers. If we could pan to the left we would see apartment blocks in even closer proximity to plants like this one.

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Who says the Chinese danwei is dead? Eggs and toilet paper (FREE!!) beside my desk today!

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The affective core of Chinese life is the family home, an understanding of which helps to explain1 the central role of residential construction in Shijiazhuang’s urban renovation. The desire to improve the domestic living conditions of one’s family and to provide a better future to subsequent generations drives family members to seek a hao yi xie de shenghuo (好一些的生活 — literally, a slightly better life).20130617-131602.jpgChina’s policy makers are highly sensitive to the economic potential of this desire to improve living conditions. At times they work to incite and exploit the desire for familial improvement as an engine of economic growth, at others to restrain it in order to protect the economy from bubble formation. Beyond direct economic implications, they are highly sensitive to the negative effects of an overheated real estate market on the daily lives of the less well off and poor, and the potential of inflation in the housing market to stymie their familial aspirations. A population with an excessively large group of impoverished, “homeless,” and stymied citizens is a potentially unstable one, and there are no principles more central to the governing philosophy of post-Mao China than those of stability and harmony.20130617-131439.jpg

Understanding the hand and glove relationship of familial aspiration and broader economic policy and practice is crucial to decoding the ways in which Shijiazhuang’s urban renovation has unfolded. As discussed here, san nian da bian yang kicked off an explosion of new housing, much of it infill/densification units. The spectacle of this massive, city-wide residential renovation overwhelms the eye, but it is the construction and promotion of entirely new neighborhoods on the clean slate of demolished chengzhongcun that provides the most compelling object of analysis for my purposes. Such projects are enormous in scale and totalizing in terms of their capacity to create and will to promote themselves as deliverers of entirely new and, of course, superior ways of life.20130617-131536.jpg

One such “clean slate” neighborhood is the 500,000m2 linyin dayuan(林荫大院/Park County) only now rising from the rubble of Beijiao Cun (北焦村). The project has only recently started construction, but its sales centre and the walls surrounding the demolition-construction site have been in place for more than two years. Objectively, the development will represent a massive increase in population density on this piece of land and a correspondingly large profit for its developer, Guangsha Real Estate Development Co. Ltd.

The overarching slogan for the project, fengjing yuanluo de gushi, appeals to familial aspirations to live the kind of good life imagined to be the norm in foreign countries. These understandings of the good life are cited and incited by ads papering the walls that surround the site, and in promotional images featured in the sales centre and circulated on the internet. In one ad, an image depicting a child bathed in filtered sunlight is coupled with the project tag line to promise the opportunity of a “life story” composed in the “scenic courtyards” of this “500,000 square meter shady forest kingdom.” In another, a similarly bucolic image works in tandem with a slogan that alludes to the poetry of Laozi to link the emergence of an improved Shijiazhuang and the re-emergence on the world scene of China as whole.

Buying a home in Park County, these ads promise, is not only the first step toward a happy and prosperous life for one’s family, but also a concrete contribution to the rise of the nation.

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Notes

1. Concepts like capital over-accumulation, spatio-temporal fixing, and accumulation by dispossession are also crucial — see David Harvey’s The New Imperialism or A Brief History of Neoliberalism for a concise discussion of these terms.

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In this photo essay, I’m concerned with the kinds of teaching and learning that go on at the thousands of public memorial sites around the PRC. Unfortunately I seem to have misplaced some of the photos from my visits to these places, although at some of them, taking pictures was obviously out of order (e.g., the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum). Of those that I’ve retained, I’ve decided to stick to sites related to the Revolutionary War that I think are worth considering. I hope you enjoy them. (more…)

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In a previous photo essay, I talked a bit about the hidden (and not so hidden) curriculum of school courtyard pedagogy. Today, a different kind of pedagogy: the pedagogy of educational desire. Much is made of the high value placed on educational attainment in Chinese culture (see here for a somewhat deeper discussion). This photo essay introduces one form that the instilling of educational desire takes in Mainland China. (more…)

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I was going through my photo archive recently and decided that there were a lot of photos that others might find interesting and/or enjoyable. Fortunately they date from a time shortly after I got my first digital camera, so it is quite easy to upload them.

The idea behind what I hope will become a series of short photo essays is that, while we tend to associate “education” with our experiences in schools (i.e., with “schooling”), education really takes place every day and everywhere. In light of this, for the purposes of this series of photo essays, I’ll use the word “pedagogy” instead (here “School Courtyard Pedagogy”). When we view daily life through this lens, a different picture of the places and practices of everyday life emerges.

Having said this, some of these photo essays, beginning with this one, focus on schools and schooling. In what follows, I’ll try to keep the descriptions to a minimum. Enjoy! (more…)

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