Call for papers for an International Workshop ”The Invisible Within: Actors, Relationships and Activities in Chinese Migrant Families“

University of Central Lancashire, UK
15–16th Nov 2018
Deadline: 30th Apr 2018

The literature on Chinese families emphasises the power of the patriarchal, patrilineal and patrilocal structures and ideologies over family members, particularly women and younger generations. Reinforced by Confucian values, family members, within this patriarchal system, are expected to prioritise solidarity, filial piety, frugality, and collective wellbeing over
individual interests. Yet, in a global context characterised by a weakening of traditions and more individualistic life styles, traditional arrangements and practices of Chinese families have also gone through a process of transformation and reconfiguration. Furthermore, migration for employment, study, investment and marriage has contributed to creating opportunities for transforming and reconfiguring family structures amongst Chinese communities abroad as a result of their increased geographical movement, socio-economic mobility and interaction with other cultures. The literature covering the experiences of individuals within these new family formations is multifold, for instance the experiences of “parachute children” and “astronaut
fathers” of Hong Kong and Taiwanese origin in English-speaking countries, the “study mama” in the context of their children’s education in Singapore, Chinese wives in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as Vietnamese, Laotian and Russian women married to Chinese citizens.

This ongoing family restructuring warrants a timely examination of how men, women, children and elders as actors negotiate this reconfiguration whilst acquiring new roles inside and outside the family domain. It is insufficient to project migrant men mainly as risk-seekers, exploited labourers or resourceful entrepreneurs without attending to their experiences as sons, husbands and fathers of seeking transnational marriage and contributing to family wellbeing. Likewise, it would be too restrictive to fail to shed light on migrant women’s economic agency and exercise of citizenship outside the family, continuing instead to view women only as daughters, wives, mothers and daughters-in-law in their global movement. Socially and legally regarded as dependants, the subjective accounts of children and the elderly, either migrating or being left behind, are indispensable for understanding the struggle of Chinese families for their settlement and betterment. In sum, the research agenda of current scholarship unhelpfully renders invisible the relationships and activities of Chinese migrants inside and outside of the sphere of family.

Download the PDF for this announcement: The Invisible within