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#bytesofchina - I am watching a person using her Huawei smartphone to video record a video on another shanZai Samsung smartphone. I asked her what she was trying to do, she said she wanted the video on her own phone. I then realized that despite widespread smartphone ownership in rural areas, people may not necessarily understand how to manage files or even have the concept of file structure. Later on, the woman asked me to become wechat contacts. I automatically opened up wechat on my phone and opened up my QR code, as this is how I always add or am added to new wechat contacts. She then looked at me in confusion as I placed my phone near her phone. It took me a moment to realize she may not know how to use the QR Code feature. She then asked me what I was showing her, I then explained that QR Code scanning was one way to add people on wechat. This moment reflects many ways that the context for smartphone use in rural areas is different from urban areas. For example, in rural areas, QR codes are not common in stores, e-commerce is not concentrated, and there aren’t apps for geographically located communities such as restaurant reviews or taxi service. #triciainchina #livefieldnote #guizhou

Nearly closing time at this recycling center, where I’m observing 3-wheeled vehicles’ role in #China ’s massive and decentralized recycling program. Cardboard is unloaded for compacting here, and besides 3wv’s it is also brought in from both far away by huge trucks and upon neighborhood residents’ backs. A 3wv has just been weighed here, and its owner is wheeling it off to unload it before bringing it back and having it weighed whilst empty to determine their payment. #livefieldnote (at 凌兆新村地铁站)

#bytesofchina - The place in the field where the weeds begin and the vegetables end tells the story of modern village life in rural China. My host showed me around the edge of the town and explained that the owners of this land no longer grow vegetables to sell, as a result weeds have taken over. Many village homes are run by elderly people because those who can work have become migrant workers in cities where they can earn more money to send back to their family. As a result, much of the land is not used and only a portion is farmed for subsistence living to feed the family. In recent years, the public has become more aware of the social impact of migration on villages. Kids are raised by elderly people who often don’t know how to supplement their education or even enforce school attendance, poor diets and malnutrition are common among the elderly and young, and village infrastructure slowly crumbles as the population dwindles. #livefieldnote #triciainchina

The driver who took me home tonight from #tumblrart is from Quito, Ecuador. He came here 13 ago at the age of 21 years old. He hasn’t been back since he came, it’s too expensive to hire a coyote - right now it costs $15k to hire a coyote from S. America. He hasn’t seen his kids or wife since he left Ecuador. He asked me about how much it costs for a coyote between Mexico & CA & we chatted about the rising prices of coyotes. He uses a computer to Skype with his family. He bought a NetBook 2 years ago. He lives with his older brother. His plan is to return to Ecuador when he’s 40 years old. He says, “I hope my children recognize me when i Go back. They will be all grown up.” #migrant #livefieldnote #undocumented

#bytesofchina - Little Apple song is playing in the background while we bleed the chicken out before defeathering it. A baby watches over the boy opening up the chicken’s beak. A few feet away, adults talks about each other families around a mobile fire pit. Customers walk into the store to buy winter leggings. A dog is walking up the street behind me, waiting for fresh organs to be thrown into the garbage lying on the street. Neighbors walk by as our hosts tell them to come join us for our dinner. In the background, a permanent layer of winter fog enshrouds the mountaintops. #livefieldnote #triciainchina #guizhou

My host’s father traveled all the way from his village to bring us a chicken. I watched a woman go from wiping her child’s mouth to slitting the chicken’s throat in 30 seconds. She then taught me how to pluck the feathers off and take off the casing around the claws. Even though I don’t buy or cook meat, I felt it was important for me to take this opportunity to learn how animal is turned into meat for human consumption. #livefieldnote #triciainchina #guizhou

#bytesofchina - At a neighborhood pharmacy in Shanghai, an elderly man sits on a stool facing a poster advertising a sale on Viagra pills. 495 for 5 pills. Usually 1 pill is 128¥ ($21), but this offer is for 495¥ for 5 pills (23% discount ) or 965¥ for 10 pills (25% discount), a 

Pharmacies have been selling Viagra more aggressively since Pfizer’s patent expired in May 2014. Since then, 10 Chinese companies have applied to the China Food and Drug Administration for the permission to produce viagra. 

The first company to obtain a certificate to produce a local Chinese version of viagra, Baiyunshan 白云山,  is its version called Jin Ge 金戈, which translates to golden dagger-ax. Baiyunshan priced their pills at 48¥ ($8) yuan per pill with 50mg of Sildenfafil (Pfizer’s Viagra has 100 mg of Sildenfil/pill). #livefieldnote #triciainchina

#bytesofchina - Drinking water coolers are another sign of upward mobility in rural China. The water tank behind these people also has a hot water lever. The household uses disposable, clear plastic cups. My host said that she started buying coolers a few years ago when she heard from everyone that the tap water wasn’t safe to drink. In her village, which is a few hours away from the town, people still drink ground water. My fieldwork partner, @xuhulk noted that their use of disposable plastic cups makes sense given that there is no storage space or easy work flow for cleaning kitchen items. #livefieldnote #triciainchina #guizhou

#bytesofchina - A furniture store in rural #guizhou selling pink velvet couches. Once purchased, furniture owners usually cover the couches with sheets and towels, so the color of the couch is usually never revealed. For a peasant, buying cloth furniture such as a couch is an indicator of upward mobility. It also reflects a behavioral shift from working the land to other forms of labor. It also symbolizes a mindset shift to engaging in leisure activities such as watching television in a common area. And it points to a spatial shift in the design of a “house.” In a typical village home with a household that is actively farming the land, a couch isn’t practical as it would requires a another designated common space for relaxing behavior outside of the eating area and the concept of common leisure time outside of eating. These furniture stores remind me of the same stores that you would find in low-income areas in the U.S. marketing to black and Latino consumers. #livefieldnote #triciainchina #livefieldnote

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#bytesofchina - a #hyperlapse of the mountain road in rural #guizhou - notice the driver is on his cellphone while navigating a manual bus with around 20 passengers. #livefieldnote #triciainchina

#bytesofchina - I’m spending a day with the river fish farmers of #guizhou. This fish farm is attached to a floating house with 2 rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The owners were so proud to show me what they interchangeably referred to as their second home, river home, or summer home. They prefer to stay here in the summer because it’s cooler than their village home, it’s mosquito free, and they love the river view. Almost every other night during the summer, they either host or go to a BBQ on the lake. To start a fish farm, a peasant needs to have 200,000¥ (~35,000USD) for the equipment, such as the white styrofoam supporters, copper poles, and nets. There are no permit fees to run the farm for anyone with a hukou residency in the village. Every week, trucks come to buy live fish. When I asked the owners where the trucks take the fish, they weren’t sure but they kept reiterating that the buyers don’t pay for dead fish. When fish do die, they are fed to other fish or to pigs - no fish goes to waste. This man and his wife sent his daughter to school with the money from the farm and support other relatives. Before this man became a fish farmer, he drove trucks and took on misc jobs to support his family.
The way this family talked about their “second home” made me think about how one defines success and luxury. They referred to their “summer home” so nonchalantly, much like how people talk about their vacation homes. To them, having a lake home in where they operate an independent business is such a positive sign of the economic access now possible in one of poorest provinces in China. It’s so easy for an outsider to view their lives through the lens of judgement or sympathy. But it’s much harder to have empathy - to just see from their point of view how they measure progress and what they value, and why they do what they do and believe what they believe.
I struggle with this. I get so close to the people I do fieldwork with that the line between friendship, family, and participant become muddled. I am always reminded when I’m in the field that mindful listening is so much harder than talking. #triciainchina #livefieldnote #QingshuiRiver #清水江 (at Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture)

This is sautéed queen yellow bumblebees, a species known for their ability to kill a person with 1 to 2 stings. Our host said that 2 men from their village died a few months ago when capturing the bees, which can only be done at night and requires one to climb up a tree. So knowing how dangerous it is to capture these bees, I ate them with total appreciation for the lengths that #guizhou people go to for procuring delicate specialties. Our host captured these bees himself, and he said that they are so special that he doesn’t sell them and only takes them out for special occasions. Towards the end of the lunch, he mentioned that the men who died were drunk, and the bees love the smell of alcohol on humans. So I can definitively say that under extreme conditions of professional ethnographic necessity and the desire to show my appreciation to hosts, i am able to do a relatively good job of suppressing my extreme fear of insects. #triciainchina #bytesofchina #livefieldnote (at 貴陽黔靈山公園)

I observed the taxi driver making a movement with his hands that I can’t ever recollect seeing in China. While driving, he raised his right arm and pulled down the sun visor in the car to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun directly in front of him. After 10 minutes when the sun was no longer at a direct angle, he raised his arm to flip the sun visor back up. I was so perplexed by his action because it’s a hand motion I have not seen in the last few months. This moment got me thinking about the name of the object, “sun visor,” for the design of such a component emerged out of a human need to block the sun while driving. The sun visor, however, is only useful to the extent that there is strong sun glare. But what happens when things that are invented in one context are no longer needed in another context? What happens when the conditions change? In urban China, the sun is blocked or at least very diffused as a result of chronic smog coverage, so drivers don’t need to use the sun visor for the same purposes as drivers elsewhere where there is sun. When I return to China next week, I’m going to pay closer attention to what drivers do with their “sun visors.” This has also got me thinking in a greater scope about how objects/institutions/people mutate as their spatial environment changes. Even today I started noticing a different side of me emerge after 12 hours of being in Tokyo. I don’t have the words to articulate it yet, but something has shifted…. / #triciainjapan #tokyo #triciainchina #ethnography #livefieldnote (at Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan)

Uber driver Ishmael provides customer with Dum Dum candy lollipops and bottled Poland Spring water. He’s been driving for 6 months with Uber. When uber raised the fees they keep from each ride from 20% to 30%, Ishmael did not mind. He says that uber is a good company and the portion they keep is fair. #livefieldnote #uber uberethnography

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#bytesofchina - China’s newest affordable airline, Spring Airlines, has incorporated body exercises on their flights. Before touchdown, all the attendants stand in the aisle to demonstrate the 10 min set of movements that involve facial massage, ankle circles, back flapping, arm stretches, and chest pats. #livefieldnote #triciainchina

A political analysis magazine featuring a story about Obama and Xi Jinping, DVD porn, and internet famous @creambrother_thecat Stickers & paraphernalia – one can purchase all 3 of these items at the same news stand in the city center of #hongkong. It’s extraordinary that these items are mixed together by the shopkeeper and accepted by consumers in an everyday ordinary way. I find it fascinating to see how people sort information. From a anthropological and librarian science perspective, categorization systems reflect knowledge systems. #livefieldnote #triciainhongkong #bytesofchina

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Video to accompany the last #livefieldnote from #guizhou - if you listen closely you can hear Little Apple #triciainchina