“All Migrant Workers on the Earth Are One Family”: An Ethnographic Study of Vernacular Rhetorics of Emerging Public Space in a Transitional China


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This research focuses on a particular self-organization of Chinese migrant workers and is meant as an ethnographic study of their civic engagement. It emphasizes the local knowledge and folk methods (defined as “vernacular rhetoric”) of social members. The research is intent to answer three pivotal questions: First, what is the practical logic by which the self-organization deals with local state power? Second, how is the identity of the self-organization constructed and contested in public discourse? Third, what are the cultural resources of the self-organization in envisioning alternative modes of civil society? In the end, this research reveals the local mechanism whereby migrant workers teach themselves as free people and negotiate power relation with the state.