2021 Summer Student Research Project | Where are the Homeless People in Shanghai?

Supervisor: Zairong Xiang, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

Project Description

Homelessness reveals a phenomenological character. Defined as lacking home, the condition tends to manifest itself in public spaces. As both a social and a visual phenomenon, homelessness is often associated with poverty. But there are no homeless people in Shanghai. Even when we intentionally look for them, they are almost nowhere to be seen. How is it that a social reality so integral to any developed economy, and one that is almost always glaringly visible, is nowhere to be seen in the forerunner of global financial capitalism of China, East Asia, and the world? Our investigation, emerging from a primarily visual experience of Shanghai’s homelessness-less as its temporal and privileged dwellers, looks at the political implications behind the aesthetically pristine societal image that the Chinese state aims to construct and promote.

Student Researchers

Eldar Wang is a rising junior at Duke Kunshan University, majoring in Global Culture Studies. She hopes to pursue a PhD in comparative literature in the future. In this project, she is responsible for collecting and analyzing raw data and implementing interviews.

Yutong Shi is a sophomore at Duke Kunshan University. Her intended major is Cultures and Movements with the track of Anthropology. She is responsible for information collecting and fieldwork in this project.

Research Poster