Precarious Collisions: Field Encounters with Mobility in East Asia

Precarious Collisions: Field Encounters with Mobility in East Asia

Being Outside, Finding Oneself
Gabriele de Seta (self-employed researcher)

During the last leg of my fieldwork in Chinese cities, I took a couple of weeks of holiday in a tourist town near Shanghai. After a couple of days, a young woman sitting next to me at a gathering with friends drew me into an intimate recounting of her life story. Yangyang’s life trajectory, condensed in a short but intense encounter, haunted my dissertation without ever finding a place in it. Her first-hand account of displacement keeps troubling my fieldwork experiences as a reminder of the incommensurabilities sparked by the precarious collisions that characterize living in the tangle of mobilities and precarities that China is today.

Displacing Authenticity: Collisions in Demolition
Asa Roast (University of Leeds)

This short film emerged from reflection on my fieldwork and ethnographic practice involved in my PhD, and the anxiety I had relating to a sense of unworthiness and a fear of dropping out and returning to temp work. I try to consider the precarity and displacement of a PhD student on fieldwork and how that effected my reading of the precarity and displacement I encountered in the field, and the economies of perceived authenticity at work in documenting, reflecting on and thinking through these encounters.

Displacement and Livestream Ethnography (Xiangxi Fatty, 2015-2017)
Dino Ge Zhang (RMIT University)

Displacing Hidden Bodies: Gender, Family and Fieldwork
Jonathan Burrow (independent researcher)

At the beginning of 2013, with the aim of preventing unborn children from gaining access to Hong Kong identity and state services, the Hong Kong Government sought to regulate the movement of pregnant women across its border with Shenzhen. In 2014, midway through fieldwork with the parents of cross-border children born prior to these controls, my own partner became pregnant. The gendered system of physical surveillance of female bodies – where officers routinely asked women of childbearing age to touch or show their stomachs – became part of my family’s own cross-border mobility and politics. Using moments of mixing between my informants lives and mine, this paper will show how we never leave the field and maybe we have always been there.

The Empathy of Tomboys: Living Alongside
Jenny Hoang (University of Southern California)

Utterly normal and transgressive in their physical embodiments and erotic desires, tomboys are masculine females in intimate relationships with feminine women. Whether joking with a cis-male doctor about jealous wives, or ruining the heteronormative dreams of their parents’, their embodiment challenges the rigidity of binary gender and taboos of same-sex intimacy. Tomboys, their families, and the strangers they come into contact with enact empathy in order to live alongside. Tomboys demonstrate how living alongside through empathy sustains and can amplify queer livelihoods.