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Transnational strategies and lifelong learning in the shadow of citizenship: Chinese migrants in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

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The Chinese are one of the oldest immigrant communities in Europe, and in some countries among the most economically successful. Media portraits of immigrant Chinese, however, are often filtered through racialised stereotypes, as culturally insular and economically savvy opportunists working in low-end take-outs, retails, and garment workshops. Based on ethnographic research conducted in a small European state Luxembourg, this article examines different modalities of learning and transnational strategies among three groups of Chinese migrants – temporary workers, visa overstayers, and restaurant owners. In analysing their pragmatic struggles, creative agency, and unending hopes for better lives, the paper illustrates how they engage in what Aihwa Ong calls the dual process of self-making and being made, vis-à-vis the Eurocentric citizenship regime, knowledge hierarchies, and exclusionary labour market. I offer a reading of their agentic, melodramatic everyday experiences as forms of lifelong learning, whether intended or unintended, that are rendered invisible and deficient in immigration laws, labour market practices, and sociocultural expectations. The paper challenges the Eurocentric citizenship regime and highlights immigrants’ heterogeneous ways of learning and transnational practices as part of the humanness often silenced in the global cycle of coloniality and inequality.
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Keywords: Chinese; Citizenship; Luxembourg; lifelong learning; transnational migration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, Graduate School of Education, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA

Publication date: January 2, 2019

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