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Illegal Chinese Female Migrants in France: From Divorce in China to Prostitution in Paris

  • Dr. Florence Lévy
Friday 27 November 2015
Interdisciplinary Explorations of China’s Changing Gender Dynamics 1900-2015
P.N. van Eyckhof 3
P.N. van Eyckhof 3
2311 BV Leiden

The new migration flux from northern China to France is very atypical because seventy percent of the migrants are divorced middle-class women in their forties who entrust their children to the care of grandparents and arrive in France as singletons. Once in Paris, these women, who used to work in state-owned enterprises as skilled workers or cadres, experience a harsh downward social mobility. They engage in domestic service, and work in massage and beauty parlors, or in prostitution. The lecture will explore why these women prefer to stay in France even in bad situations rather than go back to China. This lecture analyses the complex links between social prestige, hegemonic norms of femininity in China and their decision to migrate.


Florence Lévy (Ph.D. in Sociology from EHESS [France] and Neuchatel University [Switzerland]).   She has published in Revue française de sociologie, China Perspectives, Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales, Hommes et migrations, and Social Science Information.  Her research interests include gender and migration, gender tensions in contemporary China, irregular migration, and labor exploitation.

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