Reference : Singing the ‘dagong’ via the web: suffering, longings and ideals. An exploration of t...
Scientific congresses and symposiums : Unpublished conference/Abstract
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
Singing the ‘dagong’ via the web: suffering, longings and ideals. An exploration of the everyday politics of migrant labour in South China
Florence, Eric mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > > Institut Confucius >]
Digital Es-Asia
Du 9 au 10 Décembre 2011
Modern East-Asia Research Centre, University of Leiden
Den Hague
[en] civil society ; Hegemony ; narrative
[en] Since the 1980s, new forms of labour, new subjectivities and attitudes related to the market and to flexible capitalism have been more and more prized in the PRC coexisting with older strands of narratives and cultural productions linked to Mao-era state-socialism. The process of cultural re-invention and of contention around “migrant labour” provides a particularly interesting vintage point in order to delve into the twin dynamics of rural workers’ unstable identification processes (at the individual and collective levels) and at the state project of legitimation.

Within this paper, I intend to explore how the new media cultures inform and relate to the cultural politics of migrant labour in today’s China, including the shaping of new subjectivities, by examining rural workers’ use of the internet to narrate both their hometown and their experience of labour. I will look specifically at the everyday politics of rural workers’ practices of “song writing” via the internet and will delve upon the following questions: how does this practice of song writing/listening inform the politics of identity formation among rural labourers? how can one relate rural migrant workers’ song writing to the increasingly “on the ground” organized waves of labour protests in South China? I will argue that the virtual space which this practice provides a useful vintage point in order to examine how state and non-state actors can engage each other and how the Party-state is constantly re-inventing novel ways to shape its system of ideological signs.

The datas used for this paper will include songs and poems by rural workers, an extensive analysis by the author of the Shenzhen mainstream written press, participant observation, in-depth interviews, and a large body of unpublished letters to the editor of several migrants’ magazines.

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