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Research Staff Profile - Nana Zhang

nana_zhang_copy.jpg  Nana Zhange
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Department of Sociology.


Note: Nana no longer works within the University

Current research
‘Children in rural-urban migration in China’

Research interest
Labour and migration, children in migration contemporary China, guanxi networks in China.

I obtained my PhD from Sociology Department, the University of Warwick. My PhD research, funded by Warwick Postgraduate Research Fellowship and Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme (ORSAS), was centred on women in rural-urban migration in contemporary China.
In 2009, I was awarded an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, working on the identity and belonging construction of rural women migrants in China, with special focus on how language was used by rural migrant women in negotiating their identities and belongings in the migration process.

From September 2010, I will be joining the Department as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. During the fellowship, I will work on a new project ‘Children in Rural-urban Migration in China’. Bridging childhood studies and migration studies, this interdisciplinary project will explore children’s experiences, agency, needs and resilience in migration and the impact of migration on their well-being.

About the project
China’s fast economic development in recent years has amazed the world. While China’s 145 million rural migrants have been toiling in the ‘world’s factory’ to produce this miracle, their children, exceeding 78 million, are enduring social and cultural marginalization, discrimination and exclusion from the education, health care and social welfare systems in the cities as well as in the countryside. Although there are increasing numbers of studies done in China on migrant children in recent years, few studies explore children’s agency or voices or understand migration and displacement from children’s perspective. Because most of this research focuses only on one point of the migration chain (either origin or destination), mainly based on questionnaires and surveys, the analytical vantage point of the available data only reveals the disadvantages faced by migrant children. This results in an extremely negative and fragmented discourse on children in migration in China.

Built on the strengths of childhood studies and migration studies, this project employs a child-centred approach to explore the experiences, agency, needs, resilience and aspirations of rural migrant children in China and the impact of migration on their well-being throughout the entire migration process – pre-migration, the migration journey, settlement and return migration. The research will greatly benefit rural migrant children and their families, and enhance the capacity of policy makers, institutions and researchers in developing effective policies and programmes to mitigate negative effects of migration on rural migrant children and improve their wellbeing.