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Distributed for Hong Kong University Press

Searching for Sweetness

Women’s Mobile Lives in China and Lesotho

An ethnography linking rural-to-urban migration in China with Chinese migration to Africa.

Traversing the rapidly urbanizing county-level city of Fuqing to the remote mountainous kingdom of Lesotho in Southern Africa, Searching for Sweetness is one of the first and most extensive ethnographies linking rural-to-urban migration in China with Chinese migration to Africa. Against the backdrop of China’s national struggle for modernity and globalization, Sarah Hanisch examines Chinese migrant women’s complex struggles for upward social mobility across different generations and localities in China and Lesotho. Embedding the women’s portraits into larger historical contexts, Hanisch illustrates how these women interpret and narrate their migratory and everyday experiences through powerful metanarratives on “sweetness” and “bitterness.” In her exploration of migratory identities and projects, Hanisch brings uniquely gendered, multi-sited, and intergenerational perspectives to existing scholarship on Chinese internal and international migration.

196 pages | 3 halftones, 3 maps, 2 figures | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Crossing Seas

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Asian Studies: General Asian Studies

Women's Studies

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“This book is an important effort to connect Chinese migration to Africa to developments taking place in China. Hanisch also explores various drivers of present-day gendered migration and ongoing changes in the state’s metanarratives surrounding development, modernity, and bitterness/sweetness. The deeply trusting relationships she was able to establish with her interlocutors make this book especially unique and valuable.”

Yoon Jung Park, Georgetown University

‘This book tells us about Chinese migration to Africa beyond the state-centered narratives we usually read in journalistic and academic accounts. As a multi-sited ethnography, it provides insights into the struggle of ten women: between hope and desperation, between success and defeat. Searching for Sweetness is what drives these women and makes them tell their stories beyond and in constant dialogue with the state-designed master-narratives. This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to confront the complexity of today’s globalized world.”

Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, University of Vienna

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
Part I: China
2. Childhood Memories
3. Aspirations and Struggles
Part II: Lesotho
4. White and Fuqingese Legacies
5. Unexpected Turns and Uncertain Lives
Part III: Returning
6. Reflecting on Past Choices
7. Conclusion

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