Guanxi 1.1

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Description: A central theme of Chinese society is that of ‘Guanxi’, which describes the personalised network of connections people have with one another.  Guanxi forms as a complex web of interpersonal relationships, usually starting between two individuals and often extending to family, friends, colleagues and other organisational associates.  These mutual ties are based on personal trust and reciprocal favours and cannot therefore be transferrable.  In an attempt to begin this process of building ‘connections’ with locals in Beijing, the Action Researcher/Performer created a devise to start developing her own Guanxi network.   A typical Chinese display case was modified (by removing the glass panels in either end of the structure), in order to create a mechanism for interaction.  The Action Researcher/Performer with the assistance of a translator, walked around the streets of the local neighbourhood of Tuanjiehu and Sanlitun, approaching members of the public and asking them if they would be willing to shake hands inside this glass structure.  From young to older people, students, shop owners, security officers and city cleaners, locals were enthusiastic about engaging in this form of greeting with a foreign ‘stranger’.


© Astra Howard 2014