In the contemporary globalized society, migration and urbanization have become pivotal processes that involve large parts of the world population and have drawn the attention of analysts. Scholars from a variety of disciplines have analysed these two phenomena all over the world from different perspectives and with different aims. This paper explores the present situation of the so-called 打工妹 dagongmei (young Chinese migrant women) who arrive in big cities from small villages seeking social emancipation or to escape from patriarchy and other social impositions they are pushed to accept as young women.
Female emancipation has been an important goal for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Following Friedrich Engels’ “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” and the Marxist theory of female emancipation as a class issue, the CCP tried to involve Chinese women in labour (i.e. farming and industrial labour). During the 1980s, feminists and intellectuals began to criticize this policy because it had failed in its goal to bring emancipation to Chinese women.
The present research revolves around the understanding of the concept of 自由 ziyou (freedom) among female migrants in Beijing. According to the results of the survey, “freedom” has different meanings for the young women but it is possible to sum them up in three correlated categories: 自由 ziyou meaning economic freedom, or economic independence with no necessity to rely on someone else (family or partner); 自由 ziyou, the absence of familial control; and 自由 ziyou, the discovery of new urban realities and subsequent experiences of great importance for personal development and education.
Since the implementation of the policy of reform and opening-up promoted by the “little helmsman”, Deng Xiaoping, at the end of 1970s, the People’s Republic of China has been and is still experiencing huge internal migration. This is a mass migration with no precedent in human history. At the beginning of the 1980s, there were only 20 million migrants in China; by 2009, this number had reached almost 150 million (俞可平 Yu Keping, 2010). Independent media reports (Yardley, 2004) now indicate that more than 200 million individuals have marched from rural areas to the industrialized areas of eastern China. Almost one third of this figure is made up of female migrants. In certain areas and in specific industrial sectors such as textiles, manufacturing, cleaning, and the sex industry, the percentage of women reaches 70 (Jacka and Gaetano, 2004).
It is not possible to study and analyse Chinese domestic migration without taking into account the cultural, political, social, and economic complexity of the country. The scope of the current chapter does not allow for an extensive analysis, so it will approach the issue of the 流动人口 liudong renkou (or “floating people”, the term usually used by Chinese media to refer to migrants) from a qualitative perspective and limit the geographical area of analysis to the city of Beijing. Furthermore, this chapter will attempt, to a certain extent, to observe if and how the process of migration to Beijing from the countryside is a means of emancipation for the thousands of young female workers who undertake the move. The findings of the present chapter are the results of an ethnographic research based on semi-structured interviews and direct observation of young female migrants in Beijing between March 2009 and December 2010.
Studies on Chinese migration from a gender perspective started in the early 1990s. Important contributions in this field come from the research of Chinese and international scholars like Li Xiaojiang, Lee Ching Kwan, Pun Ngai, Li Yinhe, Zheng Zhenzhen, Honig Emily, Tani Barlow, Dorothy Ko, Elizabeth Croll, Zhang Hong, Tamara Jacka, Zheng Tiantian, and Rachel Murphy.
During the Maoist era, the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) followed with fervour the political views of the Chinese Communist Party. They participated in basing the issue of women’s liberation on the theory of classic Marxism, mainly inspired by the analysis of Friedrich Engels in his “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” (1884). Critical and independent thought about women’s condition in China spread in academic and intellectual circles only at the end of the Maoist era.
According to the results of a survey entitled “Migrant workers and gender” (农民流动与性别 Nongmin Liudong Yu Xingbie, 2000), beyond the traditional socio-economic reasons and the “push and pull” factors, there are at least three factors motivating this new generation of young women to move from the countryside to big cities like Beijing: 1) to earn money, 2) to learn and seek personal development, and 3) to see the world. Thus, leaving home seems to be more a personal and free choice for individual emancipation than a need created by harsh economic conditions or miserable living standards in the place of origin. In fact, if during the 1980s it was very unpopular (or, in other words, not virtuous) for a woman of peasant origins to leave her village and work in the service industry in urban areas, nowadays Confucian morality seems to have given way to the need for mobility and speed dictated by the country’s rapid economic development:
“Women’s migration in China may at one time have been a signal of extreme poverty or desperation, but this is no longer the case. Now it is seen as a rite of passage by some young women, or at least a great adventure. In most cases the motive is still cash income, but often money is to be amassed for specific consumption goals, such as a new home, a bridal dowry, the bride-price for the girl’s brother, or education expenses for younger siblings.” (Jacka, 2004)
Of the many ways used by academics and media to define Chinese migrants, the one closest to the subject of this study is 打工妹 dagongmei. 打工 dagong literally means “to work”, “to temp”, or “to sell labour”, while 妹 mei or 妹妹 meimei is translated as “younger sister” or “little sister” (Lee, 1998; 潘毅 Pan Yi, 黎婉薇 Li Wanwei, 2006; Yan, 2008). It is a term of Cantonese origin, used since the 1980s, to refer to the young migrants who ended up working in the factories of Guangdong Province, the “world’s factory”. Today, it is still used but more widely to refer to young girls (usually aged between 16 and 25) who leave the rural areas to work in the urban ones. They have a low educational level, are not skilled workers, and many of them come from poor economic backgrounds. And, perhaps most important from a sociological point of view, they are not married. Read more
Magnolia Pictures – HDNet Films
Directed by Alex Gibney. Produced by Alex Gibney, Graydon Carter, Jason Kliot, Joanna Vicente, Allison Ellwood, Eva Orner.
Narrated by Johnny Depp.
De kinderen op Bonaire volgen van hun vierde t/m hun twaalfde jaar basisonderwijs. Basisonderwijs bevordert brede vorming van kinderen. Het onderwijs richt zich op de emotionele en verstandelijke ontwikkeling, op de ontwikkeling van de creativiteit en het verwerven van sociale, culturele en lichamelijke vaardigheden. De kerndoelen zijn een operationalisering hiervan. Het geheel van samenhangende en daarom doorgenummerde kerndoelen geeft een beeld van het inhoudelijk aanbod van het basisonderwijs. De kerndoelen zijn er voor:
– rekenen en wiskunde
– oriëntatie op jezelf en de wereld
– kunstzinnige oriëntatie
What is the state of academic freedom in 2015? Index on Censorship magazine’s summer 2015 issue takes a global vantage point to explore all the current threats – governmental, economic and social – faced by students, teachers and academics.
In the UK and US, offence and extremism are being used to shut down debates, prompting the adoption of “no-platforming” and “trigger-warnings”. In Turkey, an exam question relating to the Kurdish movement led to death threats for one historian. In Ireland, there are concerns over the restraints of corporate-sponsored research. In Mexico, students are being abducted and protests quashed. Plus we have reports on Ukraine, China and Belarus, on how education is expected to toe an official line.
Also in this issue: Sir Harold Evans, AC Grayling, Tom Holland and Xinran present their free-speech heroes. Ken Saro-Wiwa Junior introduces a previously unpublished letter from his activist father, 20 years after he was executed by the Nigerian state, and Raymond Joseph reports on the dangers faced by Africa’s environmental journalists today. Comedian Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, looks at the rise of Zimbabwean satire; Matthew Parris interviews former UK attorney general Dominic Grieve; Italian journalist Cristina Marconi speaks to Marina Litvinienko, wife of the murdered KGB agent Alexander; and Konstanty Gebert looks at why the Polish Catholic church is upset by Winnie the Pooh and his non-specific gender.
Our culture section presents exclusive new short stories by exiled writers Hamid Ismailov (Uzbekistan) and Ak Welaspar (Turkmenistan), and poetry by Musa Okwonga and Angolan journalist Rafael Marques de Morais. Plus there’s artwork from Martin Rowson, Bangladeshi cartoonist Tanmoy and Eva Bee, and a cover by Ben Jennings.
Impressies van het eiland Bonaire. Luchtopnames zoals de hoofdplaats Kralendijk. Stadsshots en straatshots, o.a. het Gouvernementsgebouwen en de haven. Landschapsshots: droog en stoffig met metershoge cactussen; zoutwatermeren met mangroves; een kudde geiten. Strandbeelden: bergen schelpen liggen gereed voor de handel; inheemse vissers boeten netten; op sommige rotsen staan nog Indiaanse tekeningen van vroeger; de zgn. “slavenmuren” omheinen stukken grond (voormalig grondbezit van plantage-eigenaren). De rotsige noordkust: de zee loopt er met hoge golven tegen te pletter.
Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (YouTube kanaal)
“Due to the success we have had with the two ‘Africa is Now’ exhibitions, Design Indaba was approached to curate a segment on African design for a new exhibition taking place later this year at a new design museum called Cube , in Kerkrade in the Netherlands. The exhibition will showcase Design for a better world | Innovations for people. The objective of the exhibition is to raise an awareness of design and to pass on its significance. They aim to do this by gathering unique examples of the most relevant innovations worldwide from contributing museums such as the Cooper Hewitt in New York, Design Museum Taiwan, Powerhouse Australia, Mind Museum Manila, Design Museum London and of course, Design Indaba.”
“We wish to congratulate moladi for being selected to this prestigious exhibition!” – Design Indaba
Cube Museum Catalogue and display copy – Link