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Elena Barabantseva


  • Senior Lecturer in Chinese International Politics, Politics
  • Politics, 4.016
    Arthur Lewis Building
    Oxford Road, Manchester
    M13 9PL

Personal profile


I was born in Minsk (Belarus) and studied International Relations at the Belarusian State University. I came to Manchester in 2000 as a Chevening student with the scholarship from the Open Society Institute and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and have grown into this city. I received PhD in International Relations from the University of Manchester in January 2006 and joined Politics in September 2006.  

I am a member of the Critical Global Politics research cluster and also work closely with colleagues in Chinese Studies. My research on the role of overseas Chinese and ethnic minorities in the Chinese state's pursuit of modernisation-driven national project was published as Overseas Chinese, Ethnic Minorities and Nationalism: De-Centering China (Routledge 2012, 2013 in paperback).

I was an elected member of the British Association of Chinese Studies governing board from 2011 to 2014. I currently serve on the editorial board of the Asian Ethnicity Journal (Routledge).

Research interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of borders, identity, migration, intimacy, and citizenship in the context of globalizing China. I take inspiration from a diverse body of scholarship, particularly poststructuralist International Relations, Anthropology, Cultural Theory, and Feminist Studies. I experiment with post-positivist forms of inquiry, drawing on in particular on archival, genealogical, ethnographic, and audio-visual methods.

My current research focuses on marriage migration and governing issues in the context of China's borders with Russia. In the book-length study tentatively entitled Marriage, Migration, and Race across the Chinese-Russian Borders I argue that the focus on marriage migration as a site of geopolitical and intimate projects reveals complexity of the politics of desire, marriage, and race in China's struggle for national rejuvenation. I started developing this project as the coordinator of the AHRC-funded 'Borders of Migration' research network. This research interest also laid the foundation for a major internationally-funded collaborative project ‘Immigration and the Transformation of the Chinese Society’ (2015-2019) which I collaborated on with colleagues in Europe and China.

In 2014-15 I worked on the research project about the competing histories of Manchester's Chinatown and as part of this project produced a short video essay and a promotional film for Manchester Chinese Centre who I collaborated with on this project.

My filmmaking for research practice has resulted in the production of two documentary films: 'British Born Chinese' (2015, 47), and 'Border People' (2018, 14min). 'British Born Chinese' has been included in the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival's database of films.

I collaborated with Dr. Aoileann Ni-Mhurchu and Prof V. Spike Peterson on the 'Intimate Geopolitics' special issue that evolved from the Leverhulme Visiting Professorship awarded to Prof Peterson in July-Dec 2016.


I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students interested in pursuing projects in an area related to my research interests


Supervision information

Current PhD students
Choen Yin (Helen) Chan (with Richard Fay) 'An Intercultural Study of Intergenerational Relations and Cultural Identities within Chinese-British Families', from September 2017.

Completed PhD theses
David Tobin (with William A. Callahan) ‘Nation-building and ethnic boundaries in China’s Northwest’, completed July 2013. David is currently a Hallsworth Fellow in Chinese Political Economy at the University of Manchester.

Malgorzata Jakimow (with Japhy Wilson) ‘Imagining space for change? The negotiation of internal migrant workers’ citizenship in China’, completed July 2015. Gosia is a Lecturer in Chinese Politics at the University of Durham.

Diane Tang (with Roger Mac Ginty) 'Socialisation from below - the role of Myanmar civil society in China's adoption of public participation norms', completed in July 2016.

Muhammad Rakhmat (with Stuart Shields) 'Examining the Implications of the Silk Road Initiatives and the Asian Infrustructure Investment Bank activities on China-Gulf Cooperation Council Relations',  Sept 2015-Dec 2018.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester China Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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