Skip to navigation – Site map

HomeIssues135Special FeatureMaking the Future with the Nonhum...

Special Feature

Making the Future with the Nonhuman:Shenzhen, the Greater Bay, and “Made in China Intelligently”

Fan Yang
p. 9-16

Abstract

This essay examines two interconnected human-made nonhuman entities stemming from Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone, that have become dominant figures in mapping the city’s – and by extension, China’s – future: the robot and the drone. I bring an interdisciplinary, cultural studies approach to the multiple meaning-making practices that engage with these two objects; both participate in enacting the vision for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as an extension of the success of Shenzhen. These practices simultaneously normalise aspirations for a future fuelled by the power of nonhuman technological agents while offering glimpses into the uneven power relations between different humans that underpin such future making. At the same time, they also point to the emergent possibilities of meaning-making that conjoin the human and the nonhuman.

Top of page

Editor’s notes

Manuscript received on 3 November 2022. Accepted on 7 September 2023.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on December 2024.

Outline

Introduction
Human-nonhuman entanglements and future-making
The robot/worker in the age of “made in China intelligently”
The drone visions in the Greater Bay
Conclusion

First lines

Introduction

In 2022, an elementary teacher friend in Shenzhen, China’s first special economic zone (SEZ), shared a mini graphic novel by a third-grader on WeChat titled Happy 2042 (Kuaile de 2042 快樂的2042). On the cover page, a little girl points an index finger up to the sky, with a pink robot on her left. Together, they look upward at the title rendered through symbols resembling tubes, space ships, and planets. Below, an ascending rocket and a flying car with wings sit on each side of the author’s name, Feng Qianyun 馮芊允. On the first page, the little girl receives a message in a bottle from 2042 that says: “In the world of 2042, everyone is living in this high-tech happy land.” The pages go on to depict robots planting crops and serving in restaurants while drones help with door-to-door delivery (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Two screenshots of the mini graphic novel Happy 2042

Figure 1. Two screenshots of the mini graphic novel Happy 2042

Source: author’s WeChat feed.

Source: author’s WeChat feed.

My frie...

Top of page

References

Bibliographical reference

Fan Yang, Making the Future with the Nonhuman:Shenzhen, the Greater Bay, and “Made in China Intelligently”China Perspectives, 135 | 2023, 9-16.

Electronic reference

Fan Yang, Making the Future with the Nonhuman:Shenzhen, the Greater Bay, and “Made in China Intelligently”China Perspectives [Online], 135 | 2023, Online since 01 December 2024, connection on 03 March 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/15999; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.15999

Top of page

About the author

Fan Yang

Fan Yang is Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 20777, United States (fanyang@umbc.edu).

Top of page

Copyright

The text and other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

Top of page
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search