In the early 1990s I started an ongoing journey in search of a Chinese worker-subject within the trajectory of China’s state socialist system’s incorporation into global capitalism. I have striven to articulate the emergence of a possible minor genre of social resistance in contemporary China, at a time when China is rapidly transforming itself into a “world factory” for global production and world market.
My intellectual concern is how historical forces – political, economic and socio-cultural – reinforce one another and generate new configurations specific to Chinese society at the opening of the socialist system to global production. This intellectual concern on a new worker-subject, the Chinese dagongmei, motivates me to further ask: In a society in transition, what does the hybrid mixture of state socialist and capitalist relations ask individual bodies to live up to? What sort of new subjects, new identities and new relationships of power and resistance emerge?
In the past ten years, I have unfailingly committed myself to living and experiencing with the migrant women workers in the Pearl River Delta of China. Not only working on the production assembly lines alongside the workers at the workplace, I also lived with women workers in the workers’ dormitories and went with them to their rural hometowns during the Chinese New Year holidays. My intellectual life has been continuously focused on labor and gender identity, workers’ resistance and global production in contemporary China. My hope is to learn from the working class and the subaltern subjects whom I am devoted to working with for a better society. As a form of writing politics to deconstruct cultural and self-colonizing practices, and as a record of my intellectual pursuit and reflexivity, I have published a book in Chinese ???????????????(Class Yearning: An Oral Account of Chinese Women Workers)?????????2005?so as to share my work with a wider audience on Mainland China and the Chinese women workers in particular.
Pun Ngai is Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Deputy Director of the joint Peking University and Hong Kong Polytechnical University, Social Research Centre. She is the author of Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace (Duke University Press and Hong Kong University Press, 2005) which won the C. Wright Award in 2006. Her current interests include global production, gender and labor in China. She is also the President of the Chinese Working Women Network http://www.cwwn.org.