Promotionsprogramm "Transformationsprozesse in Europäischen Gesellschaften"

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Avital Binah-Pollak



Tel-Aviv University
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Faculty of Social Sciences
Ramat-Aviv, 69978

Further Information

Dissertation Project

Cross-border marriages between mainland Chinese women and Hong Kong men

Every mainland immigrant arriving in Hong Kong receives a booklet entitled “A guidebook to the new permanent resident.” The photo which covers the booklet is of Hong Kong’s business and financial center. Although this is the place associated with the perception of "Hong Kong," however, it is far from where rural mainland Chinese women who married Hong Kong men will eventually live their lives after permanently immigrating to Hong Kong. The women I studied live in Sheung Shui which is more than an hour drive from Hong Kong Island, and mainland women who live in other areas in Hong Kong are usually situated in neighborhoods which are considered very poor. As part of Hong Kong's media concern with Hong Kong's future, most media devices have been treating mainland immigrants as "outsiders," "exploiters," and "intruders."

One of the implications of cross-border marriages as well as the rising number of other cross-border activities is the changing nature of the border. Cross-border marriages eventually cause the expanding and blurring of the Hong Kong-China border, so that there is a much wider strip of border where the dichotomies of the rural /urban, periphery/center and hybrid identities/nationalism get new and more complex meanings. Crossing the political border from mainland China to Hong Kong, my informants hoped to cross the cultural and social borders as well. The main aim of my study is to explore the phenomenon of cross-border marriages between mainland Chinese women and Hong Kong men, and to examine the complexities that emerge in the particular socio-political circumstances of contemporary China and Hong Kong with its amalgam of policies and discourses. Do the women manage to cross the border from rurality to urbanity; from the periphery to the center? And does their social position improve as a result of their marriage-migration? My study will focus on the cultural and social boundaries between China and Hong Kong, on the way in which mainland mothers in Hong Kong negotiate these boundaries in their everyday lives, and how these negotiations influence their sense of social identity.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni, Prof. Dr. Nicole Constable & Dr. Orna Naftali