Jing Jing Liu

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9419

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Liu, Jing Jing, U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'The Predicament of Mobility: The Experience of West African Economic Migrants in China,' supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek

JING JING LIU, then a graduate student at University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, was awarded funding in April 2017 to aid research on “The Predicament of Mobility: The Experience of West African Economic Migrants in China,” supervised by Dr. Michael Lambek. West African traders in China mostly view China as a temporary stop, necessary on their journey to achieve their economic goals, through the export of “Made in China” consumer goods, but always with a future planned for back home or elsewhere. They build lives in China and back home that are shaped by and through a sense of temporariness driven by a desire to live elsewhere. This thesis argues that African migration to China is an explicit experiment of and in time, drawing on fourteen months of ethnographic research with West African traders in Yiwu, China, between August 2016- September 2018. Yiwu is home to the infamous “Futian Market,” a complex of 75,000 shops, declared by the UN to be the “largest small commodity wholesale market in the world” and the undisputed epicenter for the purchase and export of “Made in China” consumer goods. Through accounts of time experimentation as a collective project, rather than time expenditure as a private matter, West African traders ‘play’ with clock and calendar time, and thereby engineer new possibilities of time, and in time, documented through their temporal experiences of circuitous futures, forestalled presents, and eruptive pasts.