Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "Visual Anthropology"
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Chinese Medical Research Professionals in the Northwestern Suburban Metropolitan Philadelphia Area and Their Return Migration to China: Transnational Citizenships in the Era of GlobalizationChinese medical research professionals utilize their intellectual cultural capital and flexible citizenship for their lives in two localities: the western suburban metropolitan Philadelphia area and Shanghai, China. In addition, this dissertation discusses modern Chinese culture through Chinese returnees' eyes in Shanghai. This research will discuss migration of skilled intellectuals under globalization and the change in these Chinese professionals' transnational identities in different localities. Moreover, this research presents the impact brought by neoliberal ideology in the United States and by policies of privatization in modern Chinese society to these transnational professionals as part of the global process of migrating professionals. This research contains two parts. The first part of this research will study Chinese medical research professionals' lives in the western suburban metropolitan Philadelphia area--the Philadelphia Mainline, West Chester, and Exton. The second part of my research studies these Chinese medical research professionals' return experience when they relocate back to Shanghai, China. Most of these Chinese professionals who I studied came to the US from China (the People's Republic of China), Hong Kong, and Taiwan (the Republic of China) for their graduate degrees. After graduation in the 1980s and 1990s, they stayed for work in pharmaceutical companies in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Despite having US citizenship or permanent residency, these Chinese professionals never identify themselves as "Americans". Their lives in the historically European-American cultural dominant western Philadelphia suburbs are challenged socially and culturally when they try to carry out their "American dream". Not being able to engage in activities in American society and often feeling disempowered, these Chinese professionals maintain their social connections with their "hometowns" in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in many cultural ways. At the same time, these Chinese medical professionals are involved in cultural activities such as Saturday Chinese Schools and Chinese Christian churches. Saturday Chinese Schools and Chinese Churches provide pivotal social network milieu for these Chinese professionals to construct their safety network in living in the western suburban Philadelphia area. Unlike Chinese immigrants in California and New York City where the Chinese population is huge, these Chinese professionals do not distinguish themselves by their countries of origin since they all consider themselves as a pan-Chinese minority in this Philadelphia metropolitan area. They do, however, distinguish themselves from Chinese immigrants in Philadelphia's Chinatown owing to social and economic differences, though a shared sentiment of pan-ethnicity emerges when they experience racial discrimination. These Chinese professionals conceive of neoliberal ideology as a natural fact of life in the US which they appreciate. They consider the social milieu of China as making it harsher for them to be prosperous than in the US since they do not need to have existing guanxi networks based on their families and friends in the US context. Intergenerationally, these Chinese professionals try to pass down their cultural heritage by ensuring that their children are educated, formally and informally, in Chinese language and culture. Their children--the second generation Chinese immigrants--identify themselves mostly as Chinese Americans with an imagined identity that connects them with their parents' respective homelands. Gender plays a vital role for these second generation Chinese immigrants with respect to the issue of becoming well-adjusted in attending to American high schools. Girls are more accepted by non-Asian peers than boys. Most of these second-generation Chinese boys tend to socialize only with Asian boys, and are very protective about themselves with respect to other groups in high schools. The second part of my research discusses these Chinese medical research professionals' return experience to China, particularly to the fast-paced, rapidly developing context of Shanghai. Starting from the year 2007, the economic recession has gradually been taking over the United States. At the same time, the booming Chinese market and economy are becoming the new focus of American companies. American pharmaceutical companies in the Philadelphia area recognize that these Chinese medical research professionals' transnational background enables them to broaden the company's economic development in China; therefore, they repatriate some Chinese medical professionals to China at management levels. Simultaneously, other Chinese professionals are returning to China to start their own small businesses because they were laid off in the United States. Having come to the US to pursue their American dreams, the unexpected return challenges Chinese professionals in every aspect of life. First, the process of relocation of the whole family can take years and lead to separation of the family. The separation leads to a shift in gender roles. Usually the mother takes charge of the whole family while the father moves to China for work. Some families are broken because some family members opt to stay in the US, which leads to adoption of children, love affairs, and divorces. China has developed dramatically economically and culturally since these Chinese professionals left in the 1990's; therefore, these Chinese professionals, who become returnees after returning to China, realize that they have difficulties adjusting themselves to life in Shanghai. Feeling like outsiders again, they have developed strategies to counter these difficulties. First of all, these Chinese returnees find that their identities as Chinese are strongly challenged since they are recognized as Americans by local Chinese. They realize that they have been Americanized in their social behavior, and they have had to force themselves to adapt to contemporary modern Chinese culture--which is heavily influenced by capitalism and neoliberalism after the PRC market reforms. Realizing that guanxi relationships are the main element in social networking in Chinese society, these Chinese returnees have to learn to adjust themselves to guanxi politics and engage themselves in Chinese style networking. Trying to avoid local people's secretive attitudes, these Chinese returnees tend to be friends only with people of similar background. Having social status and economic privileges in Shanghai, most Chinese returnees are able to maintain their own personal spaces and privacy by avoiding public spaces and public transportation. Most Chinese returnees are aware of the embedded social control by Chinese government in every corner in the city, and see the freedom they have in China as limited mostly to economic aspects. Some devout Christian Chinese returnees are always prepared to be deported by Chinese government since they insist on holding their non-legally authorized gatherings for fellowship and worship in private properties. These Chinese returnees' children are surprised to find that China is extremely different from what they have imagined after their move to Shanghai. They identify themselves as Americans and refuse to learn Chinese language and culture in order to distinguish themselves from local people. While people in Shanghai enjoy their imagined participation of globalization by consuming the Shanghai EXPO, these Chinese returnees keep themselves updated with US news and media through satellite television in order to retain a broad view of the world. These Chinese medical research professionals' lives in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and in Shanghai are examples of the migration and return migration of skilled professionals under the force of neoliberal ideologies and globalization. Their living experiences in China highlight changes in their ideas about national identity as Chinese transnationals in the context of modern Chinese society, which is highly influenced by state controlled capitalism and Chinese nationalism promoted through mass media and propaganda. This research will contribute to the lack of literature about Chinese professional immigrants to the East Coast of the United States, and their return migration to China.