Through the autobiographical poetry of contemporary Chinese female peasant workers, this article studies how Chinese migrant workers are dis-identified by the identifying hukou system and thus become bodies of non-identity drifting in cities. Driven by the urban desire intrigued by national discourses on modernization, peasants deidentify themselves by abandoning their officially recognized rural identity only to see that they are disidentified by the authority that rejects their urban citizenship. The double dispossession leaves them no way to identify themselves. To deradicalize the nonidentity, postsocialist ideologies invent a middle-class dream, attempting to reshape migrant workers into a “working class” misidentified with a class image beyond its financial reach as well as social function. It thus disunites the working class by throwing migrant workers into constant search for identities.
A Middle-Class Misidentification: Self-Identification in the Autobiographical Poetry of Chinese Female Peasant Workers
Yun Li is a professor of English at South China University of Technology. She was Chau Hoi Shuen scholar-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley (2015 - 16). She is the author of Reconstructing Feminine Subjectivity in the Horizon of Negative Dialectics (published in Chinese in 2012).
Yun Li, Rong Rong; A Middle-Class Misidentification: Self-Identification in the Autobiographical Poetry of Chinese Female Peasant Workers. positions 1 November 2019; 27 (4): 773–798. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7726981
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