Hosted by the International Development Department of the University of Birmingham (UK), this panel brings together three prominent scholars in the field to examine the social consequences of urbanisation and globalisation in China. Each speaker will present their current research project to offer a different insight into the process of dynamic changes happening in our ever expanding and connected 'worlds'.
The first two speakers are working on the project “Social Worlds: China’s Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking”, led by Björn Alpermann (Würzburg) and Elena Meyer-Clement (Copenhagen). It conceptualizes cities both as objects of worldmaking and active agents in world-making processes. It focuses, among others, on the following questions: How are social worlds created, transformed and/or marginalized in China's cities in times of rapid social change, advancing urbanization and globalization? How do locally shaped social worlds influence the contention of Chinese cities for global resources and recognition? How do Chinese cities then change the rules and norms of this contention?
Professor Susanne Choi will add her valuable insight into these questions by offering her current research project on "Elite Chinese Gay Men".
'Rural consequences of China’s latest urbanization policies: Towards localized migration?' byProfessor Elena Meyer-Clement, University of Copenhagen.
China’s latest urbanization policy has introduced strict restrictions of population growth for the largest cities. Together with global trends of migrant selection, this policy further decreases the opportunities for most rural migrants to settle in those cities, which have been the most popular destination for migrant workers for decades. In contrast, central and local policymakers encourage rural population to resettle to cities and modernized rural housing that are close to home. The presentation looks into these political attempts to “localize” migration and asks about the consequences for individual households and rural society. Based on a number of different cases from China’s rural areas, it provides an insight into local political programs, implementation practices, and individual responses by the population.
'Worlding the Pearl River Delta': Conceptualizing the socio-spatial reconfiguration of a mega-urban region from the perspective of migration dynamics and city-making' by Professor Bettina Gransow, Freie Universität Berlin
Starting from competing narratives on the future of the PRD the planned research will focus on Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong as three cities with different historical legacies, specific symbolic sub-worlds and particular strategies of worlding their city. The overall aim is to identify the intrinsic logic of the three cities based on their specific characteristics, migration dynamics and city-making processes as building blocks to conceptualize the socio-spatial reconfiguration of the PRD as the production process of a space of worldmaking. The project is following up on long-term research on the informal dynamics of migrant communities in Chinese megacities, focusing on the production of transient urban spaces in the Pearl River Delta.
'Global Multiple Migration: Elite Chinese Gay Men Navigating Social Stigmatisation, Family Pressure, and State Repression' by Professor Susanne Choi, Chinese University of Hong Kong
The present study examines how multiple migration—defined as multiple changes of migration destination intranationally and internationally in one’s lifetime—becomes a strategy employed by highly educated, Chinese self-identified gay men to navigate social stigmatisation, negotiate family pressure, circumvent state oppression, and achieve desired life goals. It contributes to migration research by explaining how the men’s mobility patterns overlap with stepwise international and transnational migrants but differ from these migrants in crucial ways in terms of capital possession and settlement intention. It also contributes to the emergent field of return, repeat, and onward migration by drawing attention to the influences of emotionality and sexuality in shaping migration decisions. The findings contribute to the field of sexuality by bringing to the fore the way multiple migration serves as a class-based strategy for sexual minorities to cope with socio-political repression, and to pursue a lifestyle that is compatible with their sexual identity.
Elena Meyer-Clement is associate professor of China Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Her current research focuses on China’s urbanization and authoritarian governance. She is the author of “Party Hegemony and Entrepreneurial Power in China: Institutional change in the film and music industries” (Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of the special issue “Rural urbanization China’s rural urbanization and the state: Putting the countryside first?” (China Information, 2020).
Bettina Gransow is Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. Her current research foci are on migrants in Chinese megacities, on infrastructure as a Chinese development strategy, and on Chinese sociology in a global perspective. Read more
Susanne YP Choi is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Co-Director of the Gender Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research examines the impacts of macro structural changes such as modernization and migration on violence against women, masculinity, inter-generational dependency, and sexuality in Chinese societies including Hong Kong, mainland China, and Macau. Susanne is the lead author of Masculine Compromise: Migration, Family and Gender in China published by The University of California Press. Her other works were published in American Journal of Sociology, Sociology, Journal of Marriage and Family, British Journal of Sociology, Sociology of Health and Illness, Social Science and Medicine, Work, Employment and Society, Human Relations, The China Quarterly, Modern China, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Societies, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies among others. Susanne serves as an editorial board member of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and a member of the International Advisory Board of Asian Population Studies, and an international advisory board member of Bristol University Press’ Gender and Sociology Series.
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