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Is the Kingdom of Bicycles Rising Again?

Cycling, Gender, and Class in Postsocialist China

Hilda Rømer Christensen

Keywords: bicycle culture; gender; mountain biking; masculinity; postsocialist China; sustainability

Abstract

This article focuses on new types of cycling in postsocialist China, especially mountain and sports biking, and on the particular entanglements of gender and class brought with them. The shift in mobility and biking from the Mao era to the postsocialist China is analyzed in the contexts of cultural-analytical notions of global assemblages and gendered interpellations. Based on Chinese newspaper materials and fieldwork in Beijing and Shanghai, the article examines the social and gendered implications of the new biking cultures. These new biking practices mainly interpellate new middle-class men and masculinities as part of an exclusive leisure culture. If the “Kingdom of the Bicycles” is going to rise again, there is a need for a broader scope that addresses access for all, including women and families, as smart bikers, as well as biking as a daily mode of transportation.

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