Article (Scientific journals)
Migrant worker museums in China: public cultures of migrant labour in state and grassroots initiatives
Qian, Junxi; Florence, Eric
2021In Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
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Keywords :
representation; migrant workers; cultural politics; labour; political economy
Abstract :
[en] This paper offers a comparative investigation of two rural migrant workers museums, one state-run in Shenzhen and another grassroots project in the suburbs of Beijing. We take museums as institutions of the politics of recognition and identity politics par excellence, and as fields of forces through which the matrices of political economy, state formation and popular culture are played out. The theoretical problematiques that frame our analyses are twofold. On the one hand, what are the ways in which the postMao political economy and socioeconomic changes are represented in the symbolic rituals enacted in the museums? On the other hand, how such representational schemes cast light on issues of labour, technologies of the self, and the collective identity of migrant workers? We argue that the Shenzhen Museum, albeit providing idealising and heroizing portrays of migrant workers, reifies a development- and market-centred view of the city that is deliberately oblivious to the structural roots of migrant marginality. In contrast, the Beijing Museum offers a powerful counternarrative to the centrality of capital logic. By prioritising migrants’ lived experiences of labouring and living, it underscores claims for fair evaluation of migrant labour, welfare protection, dignity of labouring bodies, and collective voice and identity.
Disciplines :
Sociology & social sciences
Author, co-author :
Qian, Junxi
Florence, Eric  ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Institut Confucius
Language :
Title :
Migrant worker museums in China: public cultures of migrant labour in state and grassroots initiatives
Publication date :
Journal title :
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Publisher :
Carfax Publishing, United Kingdom
Special issue title :
New theoretical dialogues on migration in China
Peer reviewed :
Peer Reviewed verified by ORBi
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since 14 April 2020


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