Tag Archives: Tricia Wang

Back to Beijing with a new collaboration with 88 Bar

[Cross-post from gwbstr.com]

This week marks my long-planned return to life based in Beijing. My arrival was met with two days of absolutely beautiful weather and clear air (obviously the result of my arrival and not the half-day downpour that preceded my landing).

And today, I have my first contribution to the lively and inquisitive 八八吧 :: 88 Bar, a group blog with strengths in design and technology. I fit in as the lone politico, but I’m happy to be there hawking my wares. Academia and the job search have a way of pigeon-holing a person into single-sector analysis, but some academics and some employers demand boundary-crossing work. I’ve always gravitated toward the latter, and my collaborators at 88 Bar—including long-time friend and finally collaborator Tricia Wang—are prime examples of how boundaries can be crossed.

My post today recasts some of the best insights in monitoring Chinese politics, taken from a footnote in a policy analysis. Some comments by Alice L. Miller at Stanford’s Hoover Institution give a solid method for assessing the authoritativeness of various government-affiliated statements in Chinese media. Jason Li, one of the 88 Bar OG‘s, put my schematic scribbles into a great visual form. I look forward to whatever comes next over there.

Check it out.

For now, if you’re in Beijing, drop me a line.

The rise and fall of a migrant food cart in China, from Tricia Wang

A few weeks ago, my friend Tricia Wang published an account of her fieldwork, which for about a week included living in an “inner-city” migrant enclave and working as a family (one member of which she’s known for three years) tries to open a small business: a dumpling cart at a construction site.

Tricia Wang, being silly, Beijing, 2009.

This entrepreneurship is tough, and the family’s living conditions and lack of urban citizenship status pose challenges. Tricia’s account is required reading for those interested in migrants, if only because it shows the kind of ideas, opportunities, and challenges the migrants face.

Read the piece at That’s Shanghai.

Among the several great passages is this one, describing the scarcity of water in the urban enclave:

At 8am I start washing vegetables. Anything involving water takes a long time because there is one faucet for every four homes and every five faucets are connected to one main pipe. So when any one of the 20 families uses their faucet, none of the other 19 can. Someone is always washing vegetables, dishes, hair or clothes. Each family pays RMB10 per person, per month. Peer pressure and faucet scarcity prevents anyone from using too much.

Sometimes we aren’t able to arrive at the construction site in time to sell food because we’re waiting to use the faucet. I’ve learned to stand in the water line and not move until I’ve filled the basin. Since it’s so hard to get water, most food isn’t washed well, it’s soaked. The same water is then used to soak other vegetables. Then the same water is used to scrub the pot. The same bowl is used to wash hair, clothes and Li Jie’s child.