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Displaced in the Simulacrum: Migrant Workers and Urban Space in The World

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Abstract:

The article examines the construction of the World Expo Garden in Shanghai in 2010, in relation to Jia Zhangke’s 2004 film The World. It argues that during the process of large-scale demolition and reconstruction involved in the creation of the World Expo Garden, one cannot ignore the numerous migrant workers who swarmed into the city and contributed tremendously to the completion of one project after another. This article argues that in spite of their pivotal role in providing cheap labor to rebuild the city, migrant workers have not been afforded any space in the spectacular tapestry of Shanghai. This article examines how Jia Zhangke’s film is of particular interest to the investigation of the crisscross of migrant workers and the cityscape, and argues that The World is not so much a showcase of the cosmopolitan city of Beijing than an internal perspective of the city beneath the veneer of its prosperity.

Keywords: The World; World Expo Garden; construction; migrant workers; prosperity; urban space

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/ac.22.1.152_1

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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