New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China: Development, Migration, and Women Workers in China

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9780822343042: New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China: Development, Migration, and Women Workers in China
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On March 9, 1996, tens of thousands of readers of a daily newspaper in China’s Anhui province saw a photograph of two young women at a local long-distance bus station. Dressed in fashionable new winter coats and carrying luggage printed with Latin letters, the women were returning home from their jobs in one of China’s large cities. As the photo caption indicated, the image represented the “transformation of migrant women”; the women’s “transformation” was signaled by their status as consumers. New Masters, New Servants is an ethnography of class dynamics and the subject formation of migrant domestic workers. Based on her interviews with young women who migrated from China’s Anhui province to the city of Beijing to engage in domestic service for middle-class families, as well as interviews with employers, job placement agencies, and government officials, Yan Hairong explores what these migrant workers mean to the families that hire them, to urban economies, to rural provinces such as Anhui, and to the Chinese state. Above all, Yan focuses on the domestic workers’ self-conceptions, desires, and struggles.

Yan analyzes how the migrant women workers are subjected to, make sense of, and reflect on a range of state and neoliberal discourses about development, modernity, consumption, self-worth, quality, and individual and collective longing and struggle. She offers keen insight into the workers’ desire and efforts to achieve suzhi (quality) through self-improvement, the way workers are treated by their employers, and representations of migrant domestic workers on television and the Internet and in newspapers and magazines. In so doing, Yan demonstrates that contestations over the meanings of migrant workers raise broad questions about the nature of wage labor, market economy, sociality, and postsocialism in contemporary China.

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Review:

New Masters, New Servants offers a sweeping critique of China’s reforms. It is politically and ideologically engaged, packed with insightful and brilliant discussions of relations between ‘state and market, countryside and city, mental and manual work, and gender and domesticity’. . . . [Yan’s book is] a good read for those eager to understand developments in China over the last two decades.” - Shiling McQuaide, Labour/Le Travail

New Masters, New Servants is a sharp and brilliant book on many conceptual and methodological fronts. . . . For anyone who is interested in discovering the strange contours and texture of neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics, and its impact on individuals from one of the most marginalized social groups, this book is a must-read. For students and researchers in the fields of gender, consumption studies, critical development studies, migration, labor and, above all, subaltern subjectivity, this book is also a source of inspiration and intellectual satisfaction.” - Wanning Sun, The China Journal

“Yan’s new volume is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Clearly, the
face of a globalizing China cannot be understood without a focus on the
plight of migrant workers. This book is a timely contribution that provides
that lens.” - Ingrid Neilson, Pacific Affairs

“This provocative and challenging book will be a must-read for advanced undergraduates and postgraduates in anthropology, Asian Studies, cultural studies and critical theory, as well as for scholars seeking a though-provoking account of the metamorphosis of labour, class and subjectivity concomitant with postsocialism in China.” - Arianne Gaetano, Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology

“It is this ethnographic work that makes the book an invaluable addition to the study of gender, labour, class, rural/urban relations and ‘development’ in China. It allows Yan to present a nuanced and insightful discussion of these subjects and to offer a compelling critique of the teleology of ‘development’ usually given uncritical primacy in contemporary Chinese discourse.” - Jason Young, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

New Masters, New Servants is the best book to date on migrant labor, gendered domestic labor, and capitalist transformation in China. It is politically and theoretically engaged, full of brilliant insights into the new logics of capitalism and neoliberalism in China, and packed with wonderfully told ethnographic stories, anecdotes, and vignettes. A must read.”—Ralph A. Litzinger, author of Other Chinas: The Yao and the Politics of National Belonging



New Masters, New Servants is unique in its scope and ambition. One has the sense that Yan Hairong has really penetrated through several layers of mystification to see the inner workings of Chinese postsocialism and of neoliberalism at large. And through her sensitive and impassioned ethnographic engagement, she has animated the issues with lovingly rendered treatments of the circumstances and subject formation of domestic workers.”—Louisa Schein, author of Minority Rules: The Miao and the Feminine in China’s Cultural Politics

New Masters, New Servants is a sharp and brilliant book on many conceptual and methodological fronts. . . . For anyone who is interested in discovering the strange contours and texture of neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics, and its impact on individuals from one of the most marginalized social groups, this book is a must-read. For students and researchers in the fields of gender, consumption studies, critical development studies, migration, labor and, above all, subaltern subjectivity, this book is also a source of inspiration and intellectual satisfaction.” (Wanning Sun The China Journal)

New Masters, New Servants offers a sweeping critique of China’s reforms. It is politically and ideologically engaged, packed with insightful and brilliant discussions of relations between ‘state and market, countryside and city, mental and manual work, and gender and domesticity’. . . . [Yan’s book is] a good read for those eager to understand developments in China over the last two decades.” (Shiling McQuaide Labour/Le Travail)

“This provocative and challenging book will be a must-read for advanced undergraduates and postgraduates in anthropology, Asian Studies, cultural studies and critical theory, as well as for scholars seeking a though-provoking account of the metamorphosis of labour, class and subjectivity concomitant with postsocialism in China.” (Arianne Gaetano Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology)

From the Back Cover:

""New Masters, New Servants" is unique in its scope and ambition. One has the sense that Yan Hairong has really penetrated through several layers of mystification to see the inner workings of Chinese postsocialism and of neoliberalism at large. And through her sensitive and impassioned ethnographic engagement, she has animated the issues with lovingly rendered treatments of the circumstances and subject formation of domestic workers."--Louisa Schein, author of "Minority Rules: The Miao and the Feminine in China's Cultural Politics"

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Book Description Duke University Press, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. On March 9, 1996, tens of thousands of readers of a daily newspaper in China s Anhui province saw a photograph of two young women at a local long-distance bus station. Dressed in fashionable new winter coats and carrying luggage printed with Latin letters, the women were returning home from their jobs in one of China s large cities. As the photo caption indicated, the image represented the transformation of migrant women ; the women s transformation was signaled by their status as consumers. New Masters, New Servants is an ethnography of class dynamics and the subject formation of migrant domestic workers. Based on her interviews with young women who migrated from China s Anhui province to the city of Beijing to engage in domestic service for middle-class families, as well as interviews with employers, job placement agencies, and government officials, Yan Hairong explores what these migrant workers mean to the families that hire them, to urban economies, to rural provinces such as Anhui, and to the Chinese state. Above all, Yan focuses on the domestic workers self-conceptions, desires, and struggles.Yan analyzes how the migrant women workers are subjected to, make sense of, and reflect on a range of state and neoliberal discourses about development, modernity, consumption, self-worth, quality, and individual and collective longing and struggle. She offers keen insight into the workers desire and efforts to achieve suzhi (quality) through self-improvement, the way workers are treated by their employers, and representations of migrant domestic workers on television and the Internet and in newspapers and magazines. In so doing, Yan demonstrates that contestations over the meanings of migrant workers raise broad questions about the nature of wage labor, market economy, sociality, and postsocialism in contemporary China. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780822343042

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