Construction waste and rubble are socially and materially embedded in China’s urbanization process. Demolition sites have become omnipresent parts of cityscapes, and the construction industry contributes to the growth of the Chinese economy in significant ways. While the old houses disappear, their constituting materials (e.g., tiles, bricks, stones) remain as reused resources. Rather than turning into marginalized elements of an urban waste economy after their first use, these construction materials continue to play a central role in the urban built environment. An ethnographic analysis of migrant workers’ and architects’ social practices discloses the intertwined nature of social and material mobility. Objects circulate between old and new buildings, between rural and urban contexts and between local and regional networks. Locally performed practices and skills related to construction waste are embedded within larger spatial connections. An analysis of these spatial networks fosters new perspectives on the materiality of the built environment in a rapidly urbanizing China.
“Chinesische Wege des Bauschutts - Sozialanthropologische Perspektiven auf das Recycling von Baumaterialien im urbanen China.“ In Vom Wesen der Dinge. Realitäten und Konzeptionen des Materiellen in der Chinesischen Kultur (in Zusammenarbeit mit Rüdiger Breuer), edited by Philip Grimberg and Grete Schönebeck, 173–95. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2019.