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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.134

Infrastructure, aspirations and mobility: Western scholars in hybrid universities of China


  • Bingyu WANG

Primary authors


Cross-border education and research activities have become increasingly vibrant and there has been a growing trend of foreign scholars moving to China for their work and life. In order to understand how their mobility process was initiated, arranged and reconfigured, it is critical to focus on the migration infrastructure that they are situated. Drawing on ethnographic research with 50 western scholars recruited from seven hybrid universities in China mainland, this paper investigates how migration infrastructures both instigate and disrupt mobility aspirations amongst these scholars, and in turn, how they readjust their future aspirations while navigating infrastructures through their everyday immersion and encounters. Specifically, the paper identifies and focuses on three types of infrastructure that are embedded in their lives— which ranges from institutional/regulatory ones (e.g., visa regimes, work contracts) to those physical and technological ones (e.g., city setup, campus/work office, digital media); it also includes those intermediaries and brokers of different kinds, including their friends, colleagues, and their bilingual children. Particularly, the paper investigates whether and how some of these scholars exercise agency to overcome infrastructural barriers and thus better achieve their mobility aspirations and long-term life goals. In doing so, this paper contributes to the literature on migration infrastructure by examining how it influences and intersects with migration aspirations and mobility trajectories of mobile subjects. It reveals the importance of those more invisible forms of migration infrastructures (of various kinds) in altering migrant subjectivities and aspirations and shaping (im)mobilities of academic individuals moving from the Global North to China.