Abstract

Migrant construction workers play a major role in China’s rapid urbanization. In order to increase efficiency, construction companies routinely house their workers in prefabricated metal shelters. These portable, temporary, and container-like dormitories resonate strikingly with the precarious and disposable conditions of Chinese migrant construction workers. Meanwhile, within these enclosed and highly regulated spaces, the management also periodically uses outdoor film screenings to increase the morale of the workers as well as to prevent them from discussing their working conditions and alienated existence. As such, these open-air film screenings inside China’s construction compounds are at once scenes of cinematic magic and disenchantment.

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