Projects

In the context of the surging Chinese population flows in the world, the research group focuses on the emerging Chinese migration and globalization in the Global South and in Hong Kong, where the cross-border relations with Mainland China have been complex and sometimes tense. The research group aims to understand how the emerging Chinese mobility and globalization patterns intersect with each other. What are the dynamics of interactions of Chinese (new) migrants and the hosting societies and their perceptions of each other? How does the Chinese migration experiences reflect social transformations back in the Chinese society and how can these dynamics and experiences be situated and linked with theoretical discussions including ethnic and social boundaries and communities, stereotypes and identity, social mobility and/or class and power negotiations in migration studies. With these analyses, the research group aims to contribute to the general understanding of migration – whether Chinese migration is particular or shares universal characteristics with other forms of migration; and if the emerging Chinese populations flow can suggest new approaches for understanding and defining migration. Individually, the research group members will work on three distinctive and contemporary issues:

1. Chinese in the Global South: Understanding mobility(-ies) in the Contemporary South-to-South Globalization

Katy Lam studies the new Chinese international migration to the Global South notably in Africa and in Asia since the 2000s. Her research consists of three components: The first one is to investigate the mobility patterns, both spatial and social, in the new Chinese migration in the Global South. With that information, the second component focuses on comparing how and why the new Chinese mobility is similar and different to other patterns of Chinese migration in other continents. These comparisons on
Chinese migrations will stretch through diverse geographical, historical, social and political dimensions, which will provide details on the evolution of mobility patterns and how they are linked with social-economic transformations in China since its economic reform in 1978. The third research component will extend the understanding of the new Chinese migration patterns on how they have been engendered by and are in turn engendering the growing Chinese internationalization (companies and identity) in the Global South.

2. Gender and translocal social practices of the Hong Kong and Mainland China cross-border Marriage

Debates on transnational society continue to identify tensions and benefits broadly associated with managing everyday life across national borders. Elaine Gao explores how the cross-border marriages between Hong Kong and Mainland China give rise to a rethinking of the new socio-spatial practices, and how cross-border mobility and policy generate and shape family structure and caring arrangements as well as social relations involved in transnational-translocal settings. She investigates the frequency, intensity, and implications of cross-border movement and contacts in the everyday lives of marriage migration in Hong Kong; how gender roles are transformed in the negotiation of geographic and social boundaries and in the institutional context (e. g. migration policy); and how the diversity of migrants’ everyday practices simultaneously reshapes institutions and borders. The study will address the ongoing debate in cross-border migration research between Hong Kong and Mainland China and will provide reference for the transformation of family structures in Hong Kong in the evolving social dynamics and cross-border governance.

3. Inter-ethnic/migrant group relations in Hong Kong: social boundaries and identity negotiation

Under the context of growing negative perception and behaviors of Hong Kong local residents towards Mainland Chinese sojourners or immigrants in Hong
Kong, Caroline Schöpf looks into interactions between diverse social and ethnic groups in Hong Kong and how their boundaries and identities are constructed and negotiated. A number of heated conflicts between Hong Kong and Mainland China have erupted in recent years, which concern issues of political power and its legitimacy, economic and social resources and their access, and debates about national-local identity, which all were exemplified by the “Umbrella Movement” in the fall of 2014. Host societies often treat various kinds of immigrants differently and hold them to different standards, which may lead to different reactions or outcomes. Imbalances in global power and hierarchical position, local discursive power, intergroup contact frequency and other dimensions can change meaning and impact of behavior as it traverses group boundaries. Caroline Schöpf investigates to what extent each group understands insider viewpoints and interpretations of the other group, the effect the own behavior has on the other group, and the reactions that may arise from it. She will employ an intergroup boundary negotiation framework to compare and contrast perceptions of intergroup relations negotiation processes and how they relate to intergroup attitudes.