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China as a ‘new frontier’: Neo-liberal aspirations, imaginaries and (dis-) enchantments of Swiss migrant professionals in mainland China

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Mainland China has emerged as a migration destination for foreign professionals in the post-Mao era. This ethnographic article investigates the aspirations of one group among them – self-initiated Swiss migrant professionals – and the imaginative geographies of China that they develop and renegotiate throughout their journeys. The analysis reveals their aspirations and imaginaries signifying a quest to push limits for the sake of neo-liberal self-development. Swiss professionals encounter a China in transformation as a ‘country of extremes’ and approach it as a ‘new frontier’. Rich in challenges and opportunities, it both enables and limits interviewees’ projects for self-realization, further fuelling the strong sense of transience that permeates their migration trajectories.
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Keywords: China; belonging; imagination; migration aspirations; neo-liberalism; reflexive modernity; skilled migration; transient migration

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Neuch√Ętel

Publication date: March 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Transient migration due to the global movements of people for work, study and lifestyle is part of everyday life. This journal thus aims to provide a platform that explores and investigates the complexities of transient migration and to map the experiences of the growing number of transient migrants as they engage and interact with communities that are linked both to their home and host nations. This journal seeks to look at the ways in which transient migrants cope with transience and how transient migration affects individuals and communities in this transitional yet significant period. The scope of the journal will include but not be limited to themes of belonging, identity, networks, nation, culture, religion, race and ethnicity, gender and memory while incorporating the roles played by various platforms to facilitate these themes such as media, politics, policy, economy and the creative industries.
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