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"Nationalism, Vocational Education and the Mobile Working-Class Subjects"

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A keynote Lecuture from Professor Pun Ngai as part of the Re-Worlding Chinese Transnationalisms Symposium

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Nationalism, Vocational Education and the Mobile Working-Class Subjects

A keynote Lecture from Professor Pun Ngai as part of the Re-Worlding Chinese Transnationalisms Symposium

Examining emotions within the studies of mobilities, recent literature has highlighted that migration is an inherently uncertain process shaped by hopes and dreams, as well as feelings of fear and anxiety. More than an individual pursuit for economic advancement or cultural assimilation, we find that migration is also a political project that incessantly creates valuable working-class subjects; a project that often starts in vocational training school, a site generating multiple forms of mobility between learning and work-space. In the context of China, this article explores the emotional reproduction of working-class subjects through schooling and internship experiences, students’ sense of belonging to the nation-state, their aspirations and fears for the future. Developing the concept of “emotional authoritarianism”, it examines the ways in which working-class students were influenced by state-engineered nationalistic sentiments, and how it became a conflictual process of subject-making. Emotional governance is a peculiar political strategy that shapes the emotions of working-class students who are expected to serve the growth of the national economy and transnational capitalism. We discover that mixed emotions or “emotions in conflict” are fundamental to the class reproduction of migrant agents, torn among different bodies and desires in “learning to labour”. 

PUN Ngai is Professor in Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong. She obtained her Ph.D. from SOAS, University of London. She was honored as the winner of the C. Wright Mills Award for her first book Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace (2005). Her co-authored book, Dying for iPhone: Foxconn and the Lives of Chinese Workers (2020) has also been translated into German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Chinese. She is the sole author of Migrant Labor in China: Post Socialist Transformation (2016, Polity Press), editor of seven book volumes in Chinese and English. She has published widely in leading international journals such as Information, Communication and Society, Dialectical Anthropology, Positions, Sociology, Sociological Review, Work, Employment and Society, China Quarterly and China Journal, etc.​

 


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Organiser Re-Worlding Chinese Transnationalisms Symposium

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The Re-Worlding Chinese Transnationalisms Symposium will run online over two full days, 26th August – 27th August. It will take the form of a small, focussed, highly interactive research workshop rather than a conventional conference, with discussants assigned and papers pre-circulated to attendants. In attendance will be two of the world’s leading figures in the study of Chinese transnationalism: Pun Ngai, Professor at Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong, and Pál Nyíri, Professor of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Professors Pun and Nyíri will present keynote lectures open to the public (please note that registration is essential). This symposium is organised by Associate Professor Fran Martin (University of Melbourne). It aims to bring together researchers working on contemporary formations of Chinese transnationalism: revisiting the conceptual rubric that first emerged in the early 1990s from the vantage point of the economic and cultural “rise of China” today, with a focus on current trends in Chinese human, media, and cultural mobilities. 

This event is supported by funding from the Australian Research Council and the University of Melbourne.

https://mobileselves.org/symposium/

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