Grounding Migrant Belonging: Taiwanese Skilled Expatriates in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), China

Yuhui Cheng

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis aims to understand the ways in which migrant people’s belonging is constituted in the contemporary transnationalised world. Through an investigation, based on in-depth interviews and participant observation, of Taiwanese expatriates’ everyday lives in the Yangtze River Delta, China, this research discerns the ways in which migrant belonging is grounded and constituted as part of their border-crossing practices.

My analysis considers Taiwanese expatriates’ practices of belonging as outcomes shaped by their interactions in and with place. Therefore, it also contributes to a geographic understanding of migrant belonging. In particular, I foreground the role of place in mediating migrant belonging by attending to the spatiality of migrants’ everyday lives with special regard to their practices in domestic space, workplace and leisure space. In this regard, my research findings also confirm the stickiness of place in contemporary migrants’ activities and counteract the discourse of mobile peoples’ frictionless movement in the borderless world.

The empirical study also establishes an understanding of migrant belonging in relation to the politics of identity. It highlights how migrants’ everyday practices of belonging are often informed and shaped by their (negotiations of) identities. As an overseas Chinese group, Taiwanese expatriates’ experiences and negotiations of cultural and ethnic identity integral to their practices of belonging can be considered within the broader scholarship of Chinese diaspora. However, this research challenges the idea of a homogenous Chinese identity through the case study of Taiwanese in Mainland China, drawing attention to the diversity of Chinese identities and how they are practised and experienced. In so doing, this research not only advances the understanding of Chinese transnationalism, but the focus on Taiwanese expatriates’ belonging as situated lived practices also contributes to enrich recent academic writings on the grounded form of transnationalism and middling transnationalism.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Willis, Katie, Supervisor
Award date1 Feb 2011
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010

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