Queer Mobility of Chinese Women: An Ethnographic Study

Project: Research project

Project Details


Mobility of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people around the globe has been accelerated in the past 30 years due to both structural (migration policy, law governing sexuality and gender) and private factors. Mobility cross national borders, from rural to urban areas, from city to city has accelerated as a result of the globalization of economy, the rise of a global gay culture and cities, the introduction of progressive sexual and gender laws in some countries, the availability of gay tourism, and a hostile environment in one’s home country. The movement can be caused by more intimate reasons. For example, the aspiration to live a life free from family control, to reunite with one’s same-sex partner in another continent, to look for LGBTQ communities in another city for social support, to explore job opportunities in another country where people do not need to hide their non-normative sexualities or genders at work, to move to another state where lesbians can adopt a child or be accessible to reproductive technology.

Past studies of sexuality and migration have a heavy focus on North American societies and the movement of queer people from the so-called global south to the global north. This research project will explore an entirely new path of movement of queer mobility— the movement of Chinese queer women (lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer identified women) from China to Australia. The choice of destinations is based on the findings from the PI’s previous ethnographic research of queer women in China (2005- 2011). Australia is one of the most popular destinations of work, study and emigration for queer women in China. The research project will be a pioneer one in the field to study the queer mobility of women from China. PI uses the term “queer mobility” to refer to the transnational or trans-continental movement of queer Chinese women from China to have temporary or permanent stay in the host countries. It is queer because the cause of the movement is mainly or partly related to one’s sexual or gender nonconformity. Extensive field studies such as participant observation and in-depth interviews will be conducted in the chosen cities to document personal lives and community development. The project intends to generate community-based field knowledge of the lived experiences of Chinese queer women in their overseas destination, and therefore enriches the existing scholarship of queer migration in ethnic, geographical and theoretical dimensions.
Effective start/end date1/01/1631/03/18


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