Margaret Crawford Fullbright
Professor of architecture, Margaret Crawford, with Marco Cenzatti, lecturer in architecture and city & regional planning, have been conducting research on villages in the Pearl River Delta since 2006. Before its current incarnation as the “factory to the world” and one of the densest multi-city clusters in the world, the Pearl River Delta region was covered with agricultural villages. These "villages" are today surrounded and incorporated into the urban forms and home to migrants from all over China. Over the course of the 20th century, they acquired a unique legal status, and today villagers are among the few Chinese citizens who legally control their own land, build their own houses and elect their own leaders. Since 2006, central and municipal government policies have sought to diminish village power, hoping to entirely eliminate the village as an independent entity in the city. Their research attempts to demonstrate the positive values that villages bring to the Chinese economy, society, and culture.
In the Spring '15 semester, Margaret will co-teach a research studio as part of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation, with Winnie Won Yin Wong, assistant professor rhetoric. They will focus on the intriguing connection between these villages and different types of art proactive and cultural economies. These sites range from Dafen Oil Painting Village in Shenzhen, which exports hundreds of thousands of “trade paintings” around the world, to Xiaozhou Village in Guangzhou, where local artists and art teachers transformed village houses into studios and galleries, to the collaborative architectural project of Japanese architect Fujimoto and the avant-garde Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou. Throughout the region, villagers, officials, migrants, developers and entrepreneurs have leveraged art practices in order to re-imagine urban life and urban citizenship. This studio will document and investigate their efforts.