Chinese citizenship 'after orientalism': Academic narratives on internal migrants in China

Małgorzata Jakimów

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article I enquire into the possibility of citizenship 'after orientalism' by examining the writing of Chinese academics on internal migrants in China. The popular narratives on migrants represent them as 'peasant workers in need of becoming urban citizens'. These representations are based on an understanding of citizenship as necessarily urban and modern, which is reminiscent of Weber's theory of citizenship, and is based on mechanisms of 'internal orientalism'. I argue that contrary to the popular understanding of 'post-oriental' as 'resistance to the West', it is the process of the boundary-transgression between rural and urban, rather than non-Western ideas of citizenship, that opens space for citizenship 'after orientalism' in China. This process of boundary-transgression can be mapped through new practices of naming and narrative-setting in the literature on internal migrants, which emphasise subjective character of group boundaries and appeal for recognition of rural and migrant identities. It is through these instances of boundary-transgression between urban and rural that the orientalism embedded within the notion of citizenship in China is challenged. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-671
Number of pages14
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • boundary-transgression
  • Chinese academics
  • citizenship in China
  • internal migrants
  • internal orientalism
  • Max Weber


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