Many years ago
He took his luggage
Daring and energetic.
Many years later
Holding his own ash in hand
He stands at
Crossroad of the city
“Urban Farmer” by Mr. Lizhi Xu (1990–2014)
“The city, in short, shows clearly the good and evil in human nature. This fact majorly justifies the view of making the city a laboratory or clinic in which human nature and social processes may be conveniently and profitably studied.” (Park,1915: 612)
Cities such as Chicago or Shenzhen can be “laboratory specimens”, amenable to measurement, dissection, experiment, and other contrivances (Gieryn, 2006: 10). In this study, we examine the socio-spatial segregation of migrants in Shenzhen, the laboratory of post-reform China's marketoriented and open-door policies. Similar to Chicago in the early 1900s, Shenzhen has experienced a tremendous transformation from a rural area in the 1970s to a globalizing city in the early 21st century, with the accumulation of millions of migrants. Nevertheless, as stated by Latour and Woolgar (1986), the modality of “laboratory” is largely constructed and contextualized. From a comparative perspective (Robinson, 2005), Shenzhen's socio-spatial landscape in the 21st century could by no means be the same as that of Chicago 100 years ago. Today, “time-space compression” has become prominent, along with the flow of capital, investments, and products on the global scale; regions or cities of the global South such as Shenzhen have become the hotspots of growth and migrant accumulation. Based on this, Shenzhen is undergoing the concomitant impact of globalization, migration, and urbanization—the speed, scales, and effects of which are far beyond that of Chicago in the early 1900s. Moreover, the making of Shenzhen is largely a state-led experiment, to explore new ways of China's market-oriented reform, and against a specific context of urban–rural dualism.
Park focused on two issues, migration and segregation, which are still the dominant forces underlying the development of cities in the early 21st century. In China, according to the 2014 national survey, there are more than 274 million migrant workers, and the urbanization of rural migrants has become a national strategy.