Academic Publications

 Mary Ann O'Donnell


Laying Siege to the Villages: Lessons from Shenzhen,” Open Democracy website, Cities in Conflict project, March 27, 2013.

“The Cultural Politics of Eating with Old Shenzheners,” Gastronomica 10:2 (Spring 2010), 31-39.

“The Ambiguous Possibilities of Social- and Self-Transformation in Late Socialist Worlds, or, What the Fox Might Have Said about Inhabiting Shenzhen,” TDR: The Drama Review  Volume 50, Number 4 (T 192), Winter 2006, 96-119.

“Attracting the World’s Attention (举世瞩目): The Cultural Supplement in Shenzhen Municipality,” positions: east asian cultures critique  14:1 (Spring 2006), 67-97.

“Death Cultures: Which Differences Matter in Practice?” in Wild Stream, Nan Xiang, editor, Shenzhen: Haitian Publishers, 2005, 271-6 (in Chinese).

“Yang Qian, Shenzhen Playwright,” TheatreForum (Summer/Fall 2005), 48-9.

“First Night: On American Chronotopes,” invited chapter, special edition of Architect (June 2003), 97-98 (in Chinese).

“Becoming Hong Kong, Razing Baoan, Preserving Xin’An: An Ethnographic Account of Urbanization in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone,” Cultural Studies Special Issue on Hong Kong 15:3/4 (2001), 419-443.

“Path Breaking (闯): Constructing Gendered Nationalism in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone,” positions: east asian cultures critique 7:2 (Autumn 1999), 67-99.

“Zero Sun Moon: The Cultural Politics of Seeing Performance,” Theatre InSight 10:1 (Spring 1999), 27-32.

“Situating the Northbound Imaginary: Origin Stories from the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone,” Hong Kong Cultural Studies Bulletin 6 (Winter 1996), 105-108.


Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture. Lisa Rofel, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.  Reviewed in  American Ethnologist. Nov 2007, Vol. 34, No. 4: 4010-4012.


 well god, hakka compound, longgang


My current research focuses on the constant construction and re-construction of Shenzhen spaces.  Through interviews, photography, and audio recordings, I track the attempt by urban planners to present Shenzhen as always new, already cutting edge.  I am particularly interested in how the presence of older buildings not only disrupts this self-image, but also legitimates efforts to re-make the city in a future image of itself.