PRECARIOUSLY YOURS: GENDER, CLASS, AND URBANITY IN CONTEMPORARY SHANGHAI
Rapid reforms in China have resulted in increasing inequalities and disjunctures. While Shanghai is transforming into a global mega-city, like many other big cities in Asia, its dwellers are often confronted with a way of life enabled and disabled by precarity. This precarity is generally perceived to be along the lines of labour and class, characterised in Guy Standing’s term “Precariat,” or those with short labour contracts and poor working conditions.
In Precariously Yours we extend the notion of precarity towards the domain of gender, love and sexuality. In particular single women serve as a prism to explore the complexities surrounding precarity, urbanity and class. For instance, the derogative term shengnü – “leftover women” – gestures towards a group of women whose singlehood at their late 20s seems to be enough to evoke intense stigmatization and reiteration of societal demands regarding love and family life. Precariously Yours wonders: How do single women negotiate the multiple expectations and demands that society imposes upon them? What are their tactics of resistance against normative gender roles and expectations? How to imagine the city as a more intimate and fragile space? What is to be lost and gained in remaining a single woman?
Precariously Yours explores these questions through an art exhibition, lectures and public debates. The workshop will particularly zoom in on how tropes like shengnü can be read as imaginations of a “new” Asian femininity, how different modes of loving and desiring are being explored in diverse creative and sexual cultures in Asian cities and how art and activism attempt to intervene in hegemonic understandings of love, gender and sexuality. Precariously Yours engages not only with Shanghai, but also with other Asian cities as to foster a comparative approach and allow reflections upon the lives and hopes of single women in a rapidly changing Asia.
During the workshop, international scholars, activists and artists will share their experiences with colleagues in China. The exhibition will feature works by LIANG Yue, GUO Qingling and Lise YUEN.