Tuesday, March 10, 2009

About "农民工 (Nongmingong)"

As a 2008-2009 U.S. Fulbright Scholar conducting research in the People's Republic of China, I have the unique opportunity to spend roughly a year living in one of the world's most dynamic and enigmatic countries. Few civilizations have histories as tumultuous as China’s. Over the course of the last several hundred years China has undergone numerous transformations: from the globe’s preeminent power to a declining empire often subjugated by the West; from a republican state without a strong central government to a communist revolutionary society; from a poor nation with an infantile market economy to a burgeoning global superpower. 2009 promises even more changes, as the Chinese government and the people they rule over attempt to combat a global economic crisis that has devastated the previously rapid expansion of national GDP.

For the last several years, I have devoted much of my time and energy to studying Chinese language, culture, history, politics, and economics. Throughout my academic exploration of the PRC, I had the opportunity to be trained by some of America’s preeminent China scholars. Now, I am on a mission to put the knowledge they have bestowed upon me to good use. In doing so, I strive to approach each event, adventure, and interpersonal interaction with the eye of a journalist and the mind of a scholar. Ultimately, my goal is simple: to better understand both this country and its people.

My Fulbright research focuses on the effect of the global economic crisis on China's migrant worker class. For most of my year here, I will be in Beijing, completing a literature review on the topic and interacting with scholars, policy-makers, and migrant workers who can shed light on this phenomenon. When not in Beijing, I will be at one of four randomly selected, disparately located villages where I will have the opportunity to see and hear, firsthand, how migrant workers across the country are dealing with the economic downturn. While the majority of posts to this blog will undoubtedly focus on my Fulbright research, my interest in China transcends its migrant laborers, so there will most certainly be numerous essays that analyze other facets of the country.

For practical reasons, I will be extremely cautious as to what I post here. Unfortunately, this will often mean that some stories will be missing details and some analyses will not be entirely complete. No worries, you can obtain the rest of the information from me via private correspondence or by meeting with me in Beijing or Washington (upon my return to the States).

I hope that you enjoy reading about my research as much as I enjoy conducting it!

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