Drawing on over twenty-four months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between March 2013 and January 2018 in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, this article identifies neglect as a generative process. It demonstrates three related points: (1) that neglect generates new economic, social, and aesthetic forms; (2) that neglect in the PRC is marked by a historically informed temporality that presumes the state's continued interference; (3) that an expectation of neglect reifies the government as that which neglects. For years, Zhengzhou's urban villages were the best place to observe what neglect made possible, as migrants, students, entrepreneurs, and illegal enterprises took advantage of cheap rents and a lack of regulation. Just after the Spring Festival in 2014, however, the government announced that all urban villages would be demolished by the end of the year. This article examines key players in the demolitions, such as the chaierdai 拆二代 (rich-through-demolition), zhengfu 政府 (government), renmin 人民 (people), residents of the urban core, and evicted migrant workers. Looking at who benefits from the literal and metaphorical fruits of demolition reveals how the uneven temporality of official neglect challenges the PRC's narrative of constant progress.

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