Posts tagged city
mapping the city, first stop: sex workers

When doing fieldwork in a new city, one of the first things I do is try to bond with taxi drivers. They make the best informants and have such a rich sense of the city's informal and formal layers. They help me create what I call "consumption maps of the city. I buy a big street map and hang it up on my wall. Then I try to map the following onto it:

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As the city changes, so do we.

The entire city is being torn up to make new buildings and a subway system. When construction sites weave their way into the earth, we imprint ourselves into the city just from walking by the site everyday, stepping onto the broken sidewalk, covering our ears from the loud drill, watching the cranes raise each piece of steel, and walking past the dusty workers. As the city changes, so do we.

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The first breath: stepping into my fieldsite and home for the next year

My entry into China this time couldn't have been more seamless. No lines in customs. Luggage came right out. Walked into the arrival area without even having to go through a suitcase scan. But I shouldn't speak too soon. I have to remember that Shanghai is like New York City - whatever happens here - good or bad -  cannot be representative of an entire country.

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