Migration experiences and career formation among European academics in China


Daniel Nehring

Dr Daniel Nehring, East China University of Science and Technology, China

This study explores experiences of transnational migration and career formation among European academics at Chinese universities. On the one hand, it adds to a growing literature on academic mobilities and the consequences of transnational mobility for academic career paths. On the other hand, it contributes to incipient debates on China as a migration destination. In these contexts, it focuses on the experiences of European nationals, educated to PhD level, who are directly employed at universities in mainland China. The study considers these academics’ motivations for coming to work in China, their experiences of academic labour at universities in the country, including both Chinese public and international universities, the ways in which they form networks and collaborate with colleagues both in China and abroad, and their decision-making regarding possible long-term permanence in China. Moreover, it looks at the ways in which foreign academics’ experiences of personal life in China and of the Chinese migration infrastructure, including issues such as visas and residence permits, banking and finance, and access to health insurance and social welfare systems, influence their migration decisions.

This study is currently in an early stage. It involves qualitative multi-methods research, drawing on Adele Clarke’s Situational Analysis (Clarke, Friese and Washburn, 2018). Specifically, it comprises in-depth interviews with European academics employed at Chinese universities, expert interviews with representatives of relevant European organisations in China, and the analysis of Chinese migration and higher education policy, as relevant to foreign scholars. The main stage of fieldwork will begin in September 2019.

For further information about this project, I can be reached via e-mail at dfnehring@hotmail.co.uk. For more on my research profile, please see https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Nehring.

Author Bio

Daniel book 1Dr Daniel book 2Daniel Nehring is Associate Professor of Sociology at East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai. His research concerns transformations of personal life under conditions of globalisation and rapid social change. In this context, he pursues two lines of research. One is concerned with experiences of transnationalism among the highly mobile highly skilled. In this context, he has conducted research on Chinese-Western transnational families in China and in the UK, and he is currently in the very early stages of a new project on Western academics of migration and career formation in China. Second, his work is concerned with the transnational production, circulation and consumption of psychotherapeutically informed discourses and practices of personal life. He is a founder and convenor of the international academic network Popular Psychology, Self-Help Culture and the Happiness Industry, and he is currently working on the Handbook of Global Therapeutic Cultures (Routledge, 2020) and a research project on the commodification of mindfulness medication. He is the author of five books, including Therapeutic Worlds (Routledge, 2019) and Transnational Popular Psychology and the Global Self-Help Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and his work has been published in international journals such as Consumption Markets & Culture, Modern China, and Sexualities.

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