Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft, Institut für » Völkerkundemuseum » Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch » Kaufmann

Completed research project

Title / Titel Skills in migration: Everyday life strategies of Chinese rice farmers
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Alltagsstrategien von chinesischen Reisbauern
Summary / Zusammenfassung The project explores the everyday life strategies of rice farmers in the People’s Republic of China in the light of massive rural-urban migration and rapid agro-technological transformation, between the 1980s and 2010s (post-reform era). China’s rural policy, including the promotion of modern farming technologies that have replaced human labour with machines, has set free more than one sixth of the Chinese population for mostly rural-urban migration. Due to uneven regional economic development and unequal policies towards rural Chinese, this situation has led to the true dilemma of farmers being caught between A) the pressure to migrate, and B) the long-term need to consider how to preserve their resources in the countryside. The project draws on the analysis of a triage of qualitative ethnographic, quantitative, and historical data. Through the example of one particular resource, paddy rice fields, it investigates how farmers strategically respond to this dilemma by means of related available resources (especially repertoire of knowledge and farming technologies, but also labour or financial resources).
The project is located at the intersection of migration studies, agro-anthropology, and the anthropology of skilled practice, and follows a knowledge-strategic, socio-material and agent-centred theoretical framework. The aim is – through the example of the resource ‘rice field’ – to contribute to the field materialities of migration by showing that a focus on migrants’ socio-technical resources is in fact a key issue in understanding migration flows and the characteristics of migrant-home relations.
Publications / Publikationen Kaufmann, Lena. 2016. “Everyday Strategies of Rural Migrants: Assembling Skills in Mala tang Production.” Journal of Chinese Dietary Culture 12 (2): 63–112. (peer reviewed)

Kaufmann, Lena. 2016. “Review of Bray, Francesca et al. (2015). Rice: Global Networks and New Histories.” Asiatische Studien – Études Asiatiques 70 (4): 1433–1443.

Kaufmann, Lena. 2015. "Between Rice and Road: Chinese Rice Farmers’ Strategies to Preserve Home Resources in a Migration Context." Tsantsa 20 (2015): 152–157. (peer reviewed)

Kaufmann, Lena (2011). Mala tang – Alltagsstrategien ländlicher Migranten in Shanghai. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Keywords / Suchbegriffe migration, left-behind, rice farming, China, everyday strategies, anthropology
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
M.A. Lena Kaufmann (Project Leader)
Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Universität Zürich (position pursuing an academic career), SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung)
In January 2014, the Gender Equality Commission of the University of Zurich has contributed funding to a short-term fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Between May 2015 and April 2017, the project has been funded through an SNF Marie Heim-Vögtlin grant.
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Feb 2012 to Feb 2018