Multiple precarity and intimate family life among African-Chinese families in Guangzhou

Lucy Jordan, Andrew Pau Hoang, Cheryl H.K. Chui*, Wei Wang, Valentina Mazzucato

*Corresponding author for this work

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Formal ties between China and several African states have intensified in recent years. Alongside growing economic and trade cooperation, the international mobility of people between China and African states is increasing. Recent studies have shown that African migrants face institutional barriers to integration in Chinese society, however, and the personal and social consequences of these barriers remain under-researched, especially the dynamics of intimate family life. Drawing upon concepts of precarity and 'low-end globalisation', this study examines how African-Chinese families navigate everyday life, including work, family and children's education. It is based on ethnographic fieldwork comprising observations and in-depth interviews with African-Chinese families and one community leader (n = 19). These reveal how families confront the pervasiveness of legal, economic and social precarization in multiple overlapping domains. These social forces have intergenerational repercussions, with adverse impacts on family life, interpersonal relationships and sense of belonging to the local community. Yet precarity offers conditions for practices of empowerment. We conclude with implications for migration studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2796-2814
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number12
Early online dateApr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2021


  • Precarity
  • migration
  • China
  • Africa
  • family

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