CHINA SEMINAR | 6 MARCH 2013 | Anne-Christine Trémon| Lineage globalization and village localization in the making of Shenzhen

Lineage globalization and village localization in the making of Shenzhen

Speaker:  Dr. Anne-Christine Trémon
Expertise:  Chinese diaspora, Shenzhen, urban policies, heritage, kinship
Date and time:  Wednesday, 6 March 2013, 15.15-17.00
Venue:  Arsenaal building, 014

Language:  English


In my ongoing research project, I examine the transformations that have occurred over the past decades in a former village in Northern Shenzhen with the aim of understanding ‘Chinese globalization’ from below. The purpose of my project is to gain understanding of the transformations that affect the ‘lineage-village complex’. These transformations are the product of processes that unfold at different levels, and they in turn produce social entities and linkages at local and global scales. Global processes – the making of the Shenzhen special economic zone and the reconnections with the diaspora since the onset of the ‘reform and opening’ – have led to the physical disappearance of the village and, simultaneously, to the revival of the lineage.

My two main interests are the changing role of diasporic connexions and the making of a ‘native villager’ (yuancunmin) legal category. Song Yuan Sha was historically an almost single-lineage village; more than 90% of its inhabitants claim to descend from the same founding ancestor. This village of barely 3000 inhabitants in the late 1970s has today a population of approximately 60000 residents; from an emigrant village, it has been turned into an immigrant neighbourhood in a megacity of more than 10 millions.

In 2004, the village went through a process of urbanization whereby the former villagers were turned into urban residents. However, the village community still exists, and being a native villager (yuancunmin) has taken on increased importance as a result of the transformations of the collective economy. As stronger emphasis is being put on local membership, the importance of ties to the Overseas relatives in the diaspora seems to be decreasing. Yet social, economic and symbolic ties to the diaspora still contribute to the perpetuation of the lineage as a social entity. Indeed, the financial contributions of the diaspora have been instrumental in safeguarding the founding ancestor’s tomb from destruction by urban redevelopment; the villagers built a monumental mausoleum and succeeded in registering it as heritage.

I will argue that these changes reveal a process of territorialisation that comes along with both village localization and lineage globalization.


About Anne-Christine Trémon:

“My research examines Chinese globalization and the Chinese diaspora in an anthropological and historical perspective. I conducted fieldwork among the Chinese in French Polynesia for my doctoral thesis which was published as a book (Chinois en Polynésie française. Migration, métissage, diaspora, Société d’ethnologie, Nanterre, 2010). During my postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of ethnology of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (2005-2006), I studied the making of a Hakka cultural hall (kejiawenhuaguan); I have recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Gradhiva on heritage and museums in China and TaIwan. More recently, I have led a team research group on urban policies toward Chinese migrants in Paris (2010-2012). In the summer 2011, I started carrying out fieldwork in Shenzhen, in one of the villages of origin of the French Polynesian Chinese. I have earned an Eurias fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study to further this project.”




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