Living with mobility: Immigration and the practice of home making in Guangzhou, China

Authors: Xiaomei Cai*, South China Normal University, Xiaobo Su, University of Oregon
Topics: Cultural Geography, Social Geography, Migration
Keywords: French immigrants, home making, everyday life, Guangzhou
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Balcony M, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As more and more foreign professionals migrate into Chinese cities, their everyday life becomes an important academic agenda. How do they navigate themselves in a different field of living? How do they negotiate transnational connections between their home country and the Chinese city they reside? Where is a place they want to call home? To address these research questions, we use home as an entry point to explore the dynamic relationship between mobility and mooring in an era of what Bauman calls liquid modernity. By focusing on a group of French immigrants in Guangzhou, China’s third largest city, this paper has two research goals. First, we examine the multiscalar practices of home making to reveal the variegated nature of home, ranging from body and apartment to community and homeland. Second, we explore some major factors that shape how these immigrants construct their new home in Guangzhou. We find that home is not merely a style of living in Guangzhou, but also entails various meanings and (dis)attachments. To them, their apartment, as a material landscape of home, is merely a temporary stop in their whole journey because their symbolic home is located elsewhere. Without interest in making a meaningful home for long-term commitment, they always live with mobility and unplacement. The separation between the material and the symbolic can shed light on the unruly practice of home making among foreign immigrants in Chinese cities.

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