IIAS Newsletter 23

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The Past Decade of Migration from China Movement o f people from the People’s Republic o f China to Eu­ rope and Asia has both increased in volume and become more diverse in terms o f channels in the last decade, and research on it has been done by a very diverse group o f people, from Ameri­ can criminologists to Russian demographers. Most o f them had not heard about each other before this workshop. Our aim was to bring them together in order to assemble disjointed and partly unpublished pieces o f empirical knowledge for analysis with the help o f renowned migration scholars. We were won­ dering whether we could begin to paint a coherent picture o f a ‘migration configuration’ that encompasses shifts between countries, roles and legal/illegal status chosen by migrants with expediencies for social mobility in China, and policies o f gov­ ernment agencies in China that influence such mobility. By PAL NYl'RI A N D IGOR R. SAVELIEV

he workshop suc­ ceeded in bringing together 37 anthro­ pologists, sociologists, de­ mographers, political sci­ entists, and economists, as well as journalists, and government and NGO workers from fourteen countries. The diversity of the papers, discourses, and languages made a common frame of analysis difficult. Nonetheless, common themes emer­ ged from the papers. One of these is the globalization of Chinese migra­ tion, which includes several aspects. One aspect is the opening up of new migration spaces from Eastern Eu­ rope to Cambodia and Burma, and the commercialization of migration bro­ kerage networks resulting in in­ creased intermigration between indi­ vidual countries and regions. Another aspect is the increasing standardiza­ tion of some modes of economic activ­ ity and identity discourses, mainly those tied to the People’s Republic of China. This has mitigated status and lifestyle differences between migrants following very different routes and possessing different types of cultural capital, making the previously rigid categories o f‘student’, ‘illegal sweat­ shop worker’, and ‘overseas Chinese businessman’ more mutually perme­ able. On the other hand, this global Chinese migration stands in opposi­ tion to, and sometimes conflict with, established, more stationary overseas Chinese communities whose elites feel that their hard-earned economic and social stability, as well as their

control o f ‘Chineseness’ in the local context, is being threatened. Another overarching theme was formulated by Liu Xin in the form of a question: ‘What does travel mean to the way a Chinese today sees himself as a person?’ Most papers, explicitly or implicitly, struggled with the ques­ tion of whether the meaning of move­ ment to different social subjects - to migrants, non-migrants, elites, and states - is different today from what it had been. Papers by Edwards, Guerasimoff, and Thu no supported the view that the PRC government’s policy is now lending legitimacy to the ‘spatial hierarchy’ (Liu) generated by travel, thus co-opting migration into an organizationally underpinned discourse of patriotism. This can make spatial movement a sort of short cut to social movement in a lo­ calized context. The papers challenged several widespread assumptions on migra­

tion from China, including the popu­ lar criminological view that migrant smuggling is a criminal enterprise controlled by organized syndicates, that the centralized agency in pro­ moting migration is increasingly im­ puted to be the PRC, and that figures cited in Russian publications con­ cerning ‘Chinese expansion’ into the far east of the country are exaggerat­ ed. China, Russia, and Japan, partici­ pants argued, share a situation where reporting and policies on Chinese mi­ grants fall victim to conflicts of inter­ est between various levels and branches of government. Despite such differentiated treat­ ment of these issues, the papers, espe­ cially in the last panel, emphasized the role of new migration in reinforc­ ing the PRC’s state-sponsored dis­ course of ‘Chineseness’. As Pieke pointed out, the more dynamic Chi­ nese living overseas become and the closer ties they have with China, the more vital it is for Peking to pre-empt the spilling over of subversive dis­ courses among them into the domes­ tic sphere by emphasizing a single collective identity. The treatment of alternative identities and discourses of truth constructed by various elites and at the grassroots levels, including religious movements and opposition­ ist political parties active among the rank and file of migrants, was under­ represented at the workshop, but Poisson’s paper offered a promising beginning. We have contacted publishers with a proposal for a volume consisting of selected papers along the conceptual lines of globalizing Chinese migra­ tion and its changing meaning. ■ This workshop was organized by


Alleton.Viviane and Micheal Lackner (eds)


VERS LES LANGUES EUROPÉENNES Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de f Homme, 1999, ISBN 2-7351-0768-X, English and French

c h

Barmé, Ceremie R.

IN THE RED ON CONTEMPORARY CHINESE CULTURE Columbia University Press, 1999, 5 12 pp, ISBN 0-231-10614-9, illustrated Bary. Wm. Theodore de and Tu Weiming (eds)


n a

CONFUCIANISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS Columbia University Press, 1998, 327 pp, ISBN 0-231-10936-9 Cheung, Sidney C.H. and Siumi M aria Tam CULTURE AND SOCIETY OF HONG KONG A BIBLIOGRAPHY The Chinese University of Hong Kong: Department of Anthropology, 1999. lOOpp

Cutter, Robert Joe and W illiam Cordon Crowell (transl., annotation, introduction)

EMPRESSES AND CONSORTS SELECTIONS FROM CHEN SH O U 'S 'RECORDS OF THE THREE STATES' WITH PEI SO NG ZH I'S COMMENTARY Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999, 280 pp, ISBN 0-8248-1945-4 hb Dillon, Michael

CHINA'S MUSLIM HUI COMMUNITY MIGRATION, SETTLEMENT AND SECTS Richmond: Curzon Press, 1999, 208 pp, ISBN 0-7007-1026-4 Fisac.Taciana and Steve Tsang, (eds)

CHINA EN TRANSICIÓN SOCIEDAD, CULTURA, POLITICA Y ECONOMfCA Barcelona: Editions Bellaterra, 2000,439 pp, ISBN 84-7290-137-8, Spanish Fong, Gilbert C.F.,(transl)

THE OTHER SHORE PLAYS BY GAO XINGJIAN Hong Kong:The Chinese University Press, 1999,269 pp, ISBN 962-201-862-9 Geense, Paul and Trees Pels


LA PENSÉE CHINOISE ANCIENNE ET L'ABSTRACTION Paris: Editions You-feng, 1999,303 pp, ISBN 2-84279-078-2, French Haar, B.j. ter


D r Pal Nyiri and Professor Igor R. Saveliev and was sponsored by the European Science Foundation Asia Committee and the Economic and Social Research Council Transnational Communities Programme.

Dr Pal Nyiri is a Senior Research Fellow at the University o f Oxford. E-mail: nyirip@ mail.matac.hu

Prof. Igor R. Saveliev is Associate Professor

Hsio, C.T., with an introduction by David Der-weiW ang A HISTORY OF MODERN CHINESE FICTION Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999, 726 pp, ISBN 0-2S3-2I311-8 pb,0-253-33477-2 hb, third edition Jones, Charles Brewer

BUDDHISM IN TAIWAN RELIGION AND THE STATE 1660-1990 Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999,259 pp, ISBN 0-8248-2061-4 hb

at Niigata University. E-mail: irs@human.ge.niigata-u.ac.jp

Kampen, Thomas

MAO ZEDONG, ZHOU ENLAI AND THE EVOLUTION OF THE CHINESE COMMUNIST LEADERSHIP Copenhagen S: NIAS Publishing, 2000, 144 pp, ISBN 87-87062-76-3 pb, 87-87062-80-1 hb, illustrated Knapp, Ronald G.

CHINA'S LIVING HOUSES FOLK BELIEFS, SYMBOLS, AND HOUSEHOLD ORNAMENTATION Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999, 185 pp, ISBN 0-8248-2079-7, illustrated Levy, André

CHINESE LITERATURE, ANCIENT AND CLASSICAL Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 168 pp, ISBN 0-253-33656-2 pb, translated by William H. Nienhauser.Jr. Levy, Dore ].

Participants o f the workshop

3 2 • h a s n e w s l e t t e r N?23 • O c t o b e r 2000

IDEAL AND ACTUAL IN THE STORY OF THE STONE Columbia University Press, 1999, 231 pp, ISBN 0-231- 11406-0