Workshop Title: International Migration from China


Who is this Workshop for?

High school students with an interest in the area of anthropology. 


Workshop Description

China is now the leading sender of migrants to many countries worldwide, and rising waves of Chinese international migration are changing the world as well as China. Many countries eagerly welcome the money, talent, and labor that Chinese migrants bring, while also fearing the competition and demographic and cultural transformations they will cause. These mixed feelings lead most countries to require that potential migrants from China navigate a complex, challenging labyrinth of visa regulations that frequently change dramatically in response to changing political and economic circumstances. Such regulations cause the pathways Chinese international migrants take to vary widely depending on their socioeconomic statuses, with Chinese elites able to easily study, work, and do business in in wealthy countries, while less elite Chinese international migrants become undocumented laborers in wealthier countries or migrate to lower-income countries. Chinese international migrants are also viewed with mixed feelings by Chinese schools, employers, citizens, and policymakers, who welcome the money, skills, connections, and knowledge that migrants can bring back from other countries, but are also suspicious of returned Chinese migrants' foreign-acquired skills, connections, habits, identities, and legal statuses. Chinese international migrants thus feel great ambivalence about whether, how, and where to migrate.


This workshop looks at why increasing numbers of Chinese people want to live abroad for extended periods of time, how and why they choose between different pathways (study, work, business, immigration), and how their international migration opportunities, goals, and experiences vary depending on their socioeconomic backgrounds, which countries they migrate to, how long they stay in those countries. Students will read and discuss studies of many different kinds of Chinese international migrants to many different countries, and conduct their own original research with Chinese people who want to go abroad, are currently abroad, or have returned from extended stays abroad.

Sample Research Topics

Students will design their own research projects about international migration. Possible research topics include (but are not limited to):

  • How do Chinese people choose which country they will migrate to?

  • What effects do political shifts in destination countries (e.g. the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies in the US, Brexit in the UK, etc.) have on Chinese students’ desire and ability to study in those countries?

  • How does your generation of Chinese students differ from previous generations of Chinese students in their reasons for wanting to go  abroad?

  • What differences are there between the visa application processes that different countries require Chinese people to go through? What might account for these differences?

  • What differences are there between different countries’ college application processes for Chinese students?

  • What differences are there between the costs of different pathways for Chinese people to go abroad?

  • When, if ever, do Chinese people who want to migrate abroad hope to return to China to live? Why?