Suspension 2.0: Segregated Development, Financial Speculation, and Waiting among Resettled Peasants in Urban China

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Abstract

Since the late 2000s, many rural-to-urban migrants in China have lost their rural land to development plans, resettled in designated areas, and acquired formal urban residency. They stopped migrating, and have apparently ended their life of “suspension,” namely protracted mobility. While most existing research literature on this population foregrounds the issue of land dispossession, this article argues that, following resettlement, these former migrants’ lives can be more accurately characterized as a state of suspension instead of dispossession. Many resettled young adults, while having secured livelihood thanks to state compensation, are excluded from the technology- and capital-intensive developments to which they have lost their land. Some of these young people instead became petty speculators and rentier capitalists by liquidating their compensated assets through mortgages, private lending, rent, and other financial means. They are constantly waiting for the next investment opportunity and windfall gain. Although physically settled down and economically secure, they remain anxious and unsettled. They continue to orient their lives towards an elusive future rather than striving to transform the here and now, thus living in a state that I call “suspension 2.0.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-369
Number of pages23
JournalPacific Affairs
Volume94
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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