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Rapid urbanization in 21st-century China has been fraught with contested demolition, overdevelopment and shoddy infrastructure with short lifespans. By viewing this infrastructure as having “high metabolism” and examining the urban scrap trade that is fuelled by its material outputs, this article challenges a common assumption that such a form of urbanization is merely wasteful and problematic. Crucially, such urbanization also puts rural migrants and scrap into motion in a way that helps to reproduce its form. This occurs by generating socio-material nodes of scrap trading wherein migrants make the most of temporarily stable situations with entrepreneurialism. The nodes are spaces of “suspension” shaped by challenges including cheap rental housing that is often targeted for demolition and frequent harassment from the authorities. However, the challenges do not prevent scrap traders from caring for kin, attending to human sentiments and sometimes achieving social mobility.


二十一世纪中国的快速城市化充满了有争议的拆迁,过度发展,和因粗制滥造而短寿的基础设施。本篇文章通过审视此具有“高代谢”的基础设施和检验此高代谢的物质产出所推动的城市废品交易, 对认为此种城市化仅是浪费的和有问题的普遍看法提出异议。至关重要的是,此种城市化还把农村移民和废品调动起来以助于他(它)们的再生产。在生成废品交易的社会物质节点中,农村移民们通过他们的创业精神充分利用了暂时稳定的情况,从而实现再生产。这些节点是被存在的不同挑战塑造的“悬浮”空间,包括经常成为拆除目标的廉价出租房和当局的频繁骚扰。然而,这些挑战并不能阻止从事废品交易的农村移民们关爱家族成员、关注人情往来,有时甚至实现社会流动。


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