For decades, Chinese rural migrants have been understood as engaging in dagong 打工 (working for a boss), or the selling of their waged labor, conditioned by the global production chain, dormitory regimes, and exploitive labor relations within and beyond factories. Meanwhile, chuangdang 闯荡 (venturing) as a life project that either opposes or extends dagong has been neglected in scholarly studies. Venturing refers to a spatiotemporal condition defined by the uniqueness of urban villages where rural migrants participate in the informal economy on the urban fringes and attach themselves to entrepreneurship and mobility. It is also a multifaceted presentism produced out of the following spatiotemporal conditions: (1) the sense of urgency to get ahead in spatial temporality; (2) an optimistic relationship with unpredictability; and (3) the technologies of mobility in the name of freedom. By highlighting the dilemmas that propel and hinder rural migrants, this article argues that the cultural politics of venturing are a condition that renders rural migrants economically aggressive, yet politically passive. Thereby, it not only prolongs rural migrants’ mobile lives on the urban fringes, but also dampens political actions that claim space through resistance.

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