ONLINE | Speculating Futures: How China’s Transnational Youths Opt out of Urbanization and into Rural Revitalization

Grace Hou's picture
December 1, 2022
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Contemporary History, Diplomacy and International Relations, Social Sciences

Silvia Lindtner is working on two intertwined topics at the moment: on the one hand, she looks at how data-driven experiments in computer science are applied to transform China’s agriculture. This mostly involves research in large-scale farming experiments at the outskirts of China’s big cities (precision farming, partnerships between SOEs, Chinese universities’ computer science programs, and international/multinational partners). On the other hand, she looks at how these large-scale (and often state-driven) data-driven experiments sit alongside what some have described as a broader “inwards” turn – specifically, she has been doing research with a younger generation of transnational Chinese who decide to move to rural China instead of taking the high-tech jobs in Shanghai and San Francisco, experimenting with permaculture farming, eco-farming, and various forms of spiritual and shamanistic practice. Her initial research sites were in rural Jiangxi and Guangdong, but she is now working on establishing access to some sites here in Yunnan, since there are quite a few activities here as well. Part of her bigger argument is that both the large-scale data-driven farming experiments and the “youths turning inwards” phenomenon are enrolled into two of the state’s major policies, “rural revitalization” (乡村振兴) and “digitization/data-driven transformation” (数字化), each framed as key to China’s future challenges of national sovereignty and food security.

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Grace Hou

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