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Infrastructural interruptions and the maintenance of transnational lives: Foreign scholars in China during pandemic times

Topic: Infrastructural interruptions and the maintenance of transnational lives: Foreign scholars in China during pandemic times

Speaker: Prof. Bingyu Wang

Host: Prof. Leiwen Jiang

Date&Time: 14:00 (Beijing time), Nov 4, 2022

Venue: Online: Zoom ID 865 3724 9380 Passcode 954309


Drawing on in-depth biographical interviews with foreign scholars in China (hereafter ‘FSC’), this research investigates how various kinds of infrastructural interruptions affect transnational lives of mobile individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how their labour of maintenance and resourceful quick-fixes constitute infrastructuring strategies in times of isolation and uncertainty.

Specifically, the research first asks how certain COVID-19-led infrastructural barriers (e.g.,tightened visa policies, mandatory PCR testing for border crossing, suspended flights) intersect with the (im)mobility experiences and trajectories of FSC. Second, it explores whether and how these FSC manage to cope with infrastructural glitches by exercising a set of infrastructuring strategies to maintain transnational lives under the pandemic context. As such, this research develops a deeper understanding of not only the generative but also destructive capacities of infrastructural processes in terms of transforming migrant identities, aspirations and lived experiences, further revealing the situationality, incompleteness and fragility embedded in migration infrastructures. More critically, this study theorises how infrastructural interruptions also constitute the necessary social-temporal condition in which individual infrastructuring strategies emerge through works of waiting, adaptation and maintenance.

About the Speaker:

Bingyu Wang is a Professor in Sociology at Nankai University and the Associate Editor of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Her research is of interdisciplinary nature and involves a wide range of pressing global issues such as labour precarity, migrant wellbeing and diverse societies. She studies on international and internal migrations, cosmopolitanism and migrant subjectivities, with a geographic focus on Asia-Pacific and theoretical focus on emotions, time/temporalities, infrastructures and the everyday. She has published widely on these topics in high-ranked international journals and been currently working on projects related to academic (educational) mobilities between the Global North and the South.