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Experiencing Graduated Intimacies during Lockdown (Fengcheng)

A Reflexive and Comparative Approach to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Urban China

Junjie Chen

In this article, I examine the ways in which the recent, nationwide ‘lockdown’ (fengcheng) in China, caused by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, has abruptly reshaped daily intimacy practices of urban residents. Highlighting the lockdown in a southeast coastal city in the broader context of China’s post-socialist transformations, I propose that class distinctions have profoundly reconfigured local citizens’ daily experiences, producing a system of what might be termed ‘graduated intimacies’. To further contextualize these urban citizens’ experiences of intimacy under the current transnational geo-biopolitics associated with the pandemic, I provide a reflexive and comparative ethnographic look at the national capital of Beijing. In so doing, I offer a glimpse into the lives of several sets of Chinese citizens at an unexpected historical moment induced by a grave public health crisis extending well beyond China’s national borders.

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Introduction

Legal regimes under pandemic conditions: A comparative anthropology

Geoffrey Hughes

: The Making of National Identity in Jordan ( New York : Columbia University Press ). Marx , K. ( 1976 ), Capital: A Critique of Political Economy , vol. 1 , trans. Ben Fowkes (1867; repr., London : Penguin ).

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Ethnographic witnessing

Or, hope is the first anthropological emotion

Carole McGranahan

, narrative capital, and uncertainty in the politics of asylum ’, Medical Anthropology 34 , no. 6 : 551 – 571 . 10.1080/01459740.2015.1074576 Biehl , K. S. ( 2015 ), ‘ Governing through uncertainty: Experiences of being a refugee in Turkey as a