1st Edition

New Theoretical Dialogues on Migration in China

Edited By Hong Zhu, Junxi Qian Copyright 2023

    This edited book emerges from the observation that the current literatures on migration in China are constrained by a series of shortfalls, including a relative topical homogeneity centred on domestic labour migration; relatively narrowly conceived and institutionalist conceptions of migration and migrants, without adequate attention paid to the identities, agencies and everyday experiences of migrants; and finally a lack of engagement with theoretical models and paradigms in the broad discipline of migration studies. Assembling eight fine-grained research works engaging with a broad variety of migratory trajectories and experiences, this book addresses these shortfalls by: (1) investigating diverse forms of domestic and transnational migration in and to China; (2) problematising, rethinking and innovating well-established analytical tools and categories to move beyond their epistemological fixity and highlight their socially and dynamically constructed nature; and (3) underscoring the centrality of identity, subjectivity and everyday experiences, rather than mechanical causality between institutions and migration outcomes, to theoretical understandings of migration in China. It will be of interest to researchers and advanced students of Sociology, Politics, Human Geography, Social Work and Urban Studies. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

    1. Introduction

    Hong Zhu and Junxi Qian

    2. Migrant worker museums in China: public cultures of migrant labour in state and grassroots initiatives

    Junxi Qian and Eric Florence

    3. Reconstituting the neoliberal subjectivity of migrants: Christian theo-ethics and migrant workers in Shenzhen, China

    Quan Gao

    4. Agency and mobility in the context of development-induced migration: the case of Three Gorges out-migrants

    Dan Feng, Hong Zhu and Yihan Wang

    5. Chinese ‘snowbirds’ in tropical Sanya: retirement migration and the production of translocal families

    Jingfu Chen and Jigang Bao

    6. Circumstantial migration: how Gambian journeys to China enrich migration theory

    Jørgen Carling and Heidi Østbø Haugen

    7. Multiple precarity and intimate family life among African–Chinese families in Guangzhou

    Lucy Jordan, Andrew Pau Hoang, Cheryl H. K. Chui, Wei Wang and Valentina Mazzucato

    8. Dwelling-in-Travelling: Western expats and the making of temporary home in Guangzhou, China

    Xiaomei Cai and Xiaobo Su

    9. Intellectual migration: considering China

    Wei Li, Lucia Lo, Yixi Lu, Yining Tan and Zheng Lu


    Hong Zhu is Distinguished Professor and Director of South China Centre for Human Geography and Urban Development at Guangzhou University and Guangdong Provincial Research Institute of Urban and Migration, China. He is a leading Social and Cultural Geographer in China and serves as the Vice-Chair of Cultural Geography Commission, Chinese Geographical Society.

    Junxi Qian is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China. His current research interests include religion, indigenous development, cultural economic geography and urban theory of China.