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International Migrants in China's Global City The New Shanghailanders

James Farrer

List price(s):
GBP 120.00

Publication date:
10 January 2019

Short description: 

Long a source of migrants, China has now become a migrant destination. In 2016, government sources reported that nearly 900,000 foreigners were working in China, though international migrants remain a tiny presence at the national level. Shanghai is China’s most globalized city and has attracted a full quarter of Mainland China’s foreign resident population.

This book analyzes the development of Shanghai’s expatriate communities, from their role in the opening up of Shanghai to foreign investment in the early 1980s through to the explosive growth after China joined the World Trade Organization in 2000. Based on over 400 interviews and 20 years of ethnographic fieldwork in Shanghai, it argues that international migrants play an important qualitative role in urban life. It explains the lifestyles of Shanghai’s skilled migrants; their positions in economic, social, sexual and cultural fields; their strategies for integration into Chinese society; their contributions to a cosmopolitan urban geography; and their changing symbolic and social significance for Shanghai as a global city. In so doing, it seeks to deal with the following questions: how have a generation of migrants made Shanghai into a cosmopolitan hometown, what role have they played in making Shanghai a global city, and how do foreign residents now fit into the nationalistic narrative of the China Dream? 

Addressing a gap in the market of critical expatriate studies through its focus on China, this book will be of interest to academics in the field of international migration, skilled migration, expatriates, urban studies, urban sociology, sexuality and gender studies, international education, and China studies.

Table of contents: 

1. Migrant Shanghai: Studying Expatriate Communities
2. Expatriate Narratives: Belonging and Not Belonging in the Global City
3. Expatriate Geographies: From Expat Bubbles to Urban Placemaking
4. Expatriate Society: Porous Boundaries and Fragile Linkages
5. Mobile Talents: Expatriates in Transnational Fields of Work
6. Sexual Mobilities: From Self-Development to Sexual Settlement
7. Raising Cosmopolitans: Expatriate Educational Strategies
8. Rethinking Expatriate Communities in the Era of the Chinese Dream


James Farrer is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Graduate Program in Global Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. His recent publications include Globalization and Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Contact Zones (2015).

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