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North Castle Books

Rural Women in Urban China: Gender, Migration, and Social Change
Authored by: Tamara Jacka

2007 Francis L.K. Hsu Book Award Winner, East Asian Anthropology, Society for East Asian Anthropology

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-0820-8 Paper ISBN: 978-0-7656-0821-5
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USD: $90.95 USD: $42.95
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Available to all countries
Information: 344pp. Index, figures, maps, photographs, glossary, bibliography.
Publication Date: October 2005.  


Description: Based on in-depth ethnographic research--and using an approach that seeks to understand how migration is experienced by the migrants themselves--this is a fascinating study of the experiences of women in rural China who joined the vast migration to Beijing and other cities at the end of the twentieth century. It focuses on the experiences of rural-urban migrants, the particular ways in which they talk about those experiences, and how those experiences affect their sense of identity.

Through first-hand accounts of actual migrant workers the author provides valuable insights into how rural women negotiate rural/urban experiences; how they respond to migration and life in the city; and how that experience shapes their world view, values, and relations with others. The book makes a major contribution to our understanding of the relationship between gender and social change, and of the ways in which globalization and modernity are experienced at the most personal level.

Selected Contents:

List of Figures
Introduction: From the "Margins" to the "Center"

Part I. The Subject
1. Between "Rural Idiocy" and "Urban Modernity"
2. Assembling Working Sisters
Part II. Place
3. In and Out of Place
4. The Place of Desire
Part III. People
5. Relationships
6. Identifications
Part IV. Time
7. Narrative, Time, and Agency
Appendix 1. List of Interlocutors Named in the Text
Appendix 2. Map 1. The People's Republic of China
Map 2. Beijing Municipality

Comment(s): "Tamara Jacka brings a powerful empathy and an eye for the telling detail to often heart-rending tales of sojourning 'little working sisters' in Beijing. Her perspective on the lived experiences -- and the sharp self-knowledge -- of these marginalized migrants offers a wealth of fresh insights, seen from the inside. The incisive enthnographic framework, which pits rich personal narratives against dominant, official discourses, is wholly convincing. Jacka truly gets to know ... and to help us know ... her subjects, and conveys their sensitivities with a penetrating and genuine feel." -- Dorothy J. Solinger, author of Contesting Citizenship in Urban China

" Rural Women in Urban China gives a voice to the experiences of migrant women, who are some of the most important -- and yet least visible -- agents and victims of China's reform processes." -- Frank Pieke, Director, Institute for Chinese Studies

"No one has asked about as many types of migrant women (factory workers, maids, housewives, club members) or explored as many modes of identity (native place, filial daughter, rebellious daughter, practical wife) as Jacka. Rural Women in Urban China is discerning, lucid, and often moving. Jacka gives a thorough and sometimes chilling account of official discourses describing these women as ignorant, dangerous interlopers. But she is far too subtle a thinker to counter it with a sentimental tale of resistance by beleaguered heroines. Instead she shows us how individual lives exceed the framings by which we conventionally make sense of them. Her account is attentive to the complexity of migrant women's varied circumstances. An absorbing read, based on documentary, sociological, and ethnographic research, it is a genuine contribution to the field." -- Gail Hershatter, University of California, Santa Cruz

Review(s): "For those interested in globalization, modernity, gender, and labor. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries." -- Choice, Vol.43, No.10

"Jacka does a superb job in analyzing the multi-layered discursive formations about gender and rural/urban difference that China's female migrants have to negotiate in search of new status, relationships, identities and aspirations in an urban setting." -- The China Journal

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