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The other new China

By Kelly Chung  (China Daily)

12:51, January 27, 2013

Rian Dundon, photographer of the coffee-table book Changsha.

Eleven of the world's 50 biggest cities are in China, but most Americans would be hard-pressed to name more than three.

Photographer Rian Dundon followed his girlfriend to China to take a teaching position in 2005, landing first in Jishou, a mining city with a population of under 300,000, and later Changsha, a provincial capital of more than 7 million people, of Hunan province.

He spoke no Mandarin and arrived with few preconceptions about what life in China might be like.

He frequented pool halls, skateboarded and made friends quickly, picking up Hunan-accented Mandarin in the process. He began taking photos of what he would later dub "the other New China".

Those images are now available in the coffee-table book Changsha, published by, a crowd-funded platform for photojournalism.

The China presented in Dundon's pictures, made between 2005 and 2011, is neither the shiny metropolises nor the bucolic villages ubiquitous in Western narratives.

"It is something else altogether - people in marginal but isolated places, aware of a world beyond their experience but reworking and inventing local versions of it according to their own imaginations and desires, constrained by material difficulties but in no way intimidated by their status as citizens of a purported backwater," writes Gail Hershatter, a professor of East Asian studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the book's foreword.

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