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"Entrapment by Consent": the Co-ethnic Brokerage System among Ethnic Yi Labor Migrants in China

Xinrong Ma defended her thesis on 13 February 2018

Xinrong Ma
14 February 2018
Leiden Repository
Over the past thirty years, China has been witnessing the largest internal migration in the history of the world. Among the studies of labour migrants in China, ethnic minorities have been largely ignored. This study fills in this research gap by focusing on ethnic Yi workers who migrate from the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Region to the Pearl River Delta area of China. It explores how and why an exploitative and controlling co-ethnic brokerage system is formed and sustained; and how class, ethnicity, and gender intersect in producing the social inequality of Yi labour migrants through the co-ethnic brokerage system. Based on seven and a half months of fieldwork, this thesis analyses the social transformation of Yi society, the formation of Yi co-ethnic brokerage system, the collective and non-collective resistance, and the intersection of Yi labor migrants and the local state in the Pearl River Delta area. The situation of Yi labor migration is conceptualized as “entrapment by consent”, meaning that workers are not coerced by but compelled to rely on an exploitative and controlling co-ethnic brokerage system. I suggest that the crux to understanding the unequal status of Yi migrant workers is the intersection of class, ethnicity and gender. Supervisor: Prof. dr. F.N. Pieke, co-supervisor: Dr. F. de Zwart
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