Waseda Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies Colloquium Series
2022 Migration Lecture Series
“Balancing Precarity and Wellbeing: Aging Chinese Migrants’ Global Lifeways”
Date and venue:
May 11 (Wednesday), 9:00-10:30 PM JST / 8:00-9:30 AM USET | Online (Zoom)
Nicole Newendorp is a Lecturer and the Associate Director of Studies at Harvard University’s Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, where she has been a faculty member since 2004. Her new book, Chinese Senior Migrants and the Globalization of Retirement (Stanford University Press, 2020), explores how Chinese-born senior migrants make sense of their later-life relocation to the Boston area, with a particular focus on how seniors’ memories and subjective experiences of movement within and beyond China over past decades continue to influence their 21st century migration trajectories and their aspirations for wellbeing in both China and the U.S. Her previous ethnography, Uneasy Reunions: Immigration, Citizenship, and Family Life in Post-1997 Hong Kong (Stanford University Press, 2008), was awarded the 2009 Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize by the American Association of Anthropology’s Society for East Asian Anthropology.
In this talk, Newendorp discusses how a group of precariously positioned retirement migrants achieved wellbeing through their global migratory trajectories from Southeast China to the U.S. Drawing on ethnographic research documenting the experiences of seniors who moved from China to the greater Boston area at the age of 60 or older between 1990 and 2010, she explores how her interlocutors make sense of their later-life engagement in global mobility practices. In particular, she shows how seniors’ memories and subjective experiences of movement within and beyond China over past decades continue to influence their 21st century migration trajectories as well as their aspirations for wellbeing following retirement in both China and the U.S. By highlighting how these seniors’ motivations for migration, as well as their adjustment to living in the U.S., are part of a larger story involving cultural entanglements embedded in long-term historical interactions between China and the U.S., she reflects on how ethnographic attention to temporally-oriented perspectives can generate important and sometimes unexpected insights about aging migrants’ global lifeways in the 21st century more generally.