Please note that the Research Seminar Series in Urban China Studies will be held virtually via Zoom on 23 June, 2021 (Wednesday), 9:00 a.m.
Please be ready 5 minutes prior to the scheduled time.
Since the 1980s, massive population movements involving rural-urban circular migration and split households have transformed China. “Left behind women” due to men engaging in migrant work has been a common and widely recognized phenomenon in rural China. Recently, however, rural women’s participation in migration has increased considerably, including mothers who no longer need to care for young children, as well as women of a younger generation who tend to start migrant work soon after finishing school. Although these women may no longer be left behind physically, their work, mobility, circularity, and frequency of return continue to be governed by deep-rooted gender ideology that defines their role primarily as caregivers.
Drawing from fieldwork, interviews and case studies in Anhui Province, as part of a multi-year rural household survey, this paper argues that women continue to be left behind despite their access to migration opportunities. Biographical stories selected to support this argument include women who are older and who have found themselves providing care to the husband, children and grandchildren regardless of whether they stay in the village, participate in migration, or return after migrant work. Stories of younger women who have participated in migrant work suggest that they aspire to urban lifestyle such as living in apartments and using daycare for young children, but their livelihood options too are heavily constrained by caregiving responsibilities. These stories underscore that being “left behind” is not merely a matter of location – rural or urban – but is fundamentally an outcome of gender inequity in access to education and income-generating opportunities and of persistent patriarchal ideology, patrilocal exogamy and gendered livelihoods.
About the Speaker:
Cindy FAN, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Dr. Fan is UCLA’s Vice Provost for International Studies and Global Engagement, and is the first woman and Asian to hold that position. She is also Professor of Geography, and formerly Associate Dean of Social Sciences. As UCLA’s senior international officer, she oversees the university’s global partnerships and 27 interdisciplinary research centers and eight degree programs within the International Institute. She received her PhD from the Ohio State University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Bristol. Dr. Fan has numerous publications on migration, gender and regional development in China, including the pioneering book China on the Move. She contributes to the media frequently, and has received the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award and major research grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation and National Science Foundation.
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