Author:Irene Masdeu Torruella (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses transnational mobility between Qingtian (PR China) and Spain throughout the examination of the bidirectional circulation of different type of things (rituals objects, gifts and commodities) and the places or buildings where they are locally emplaced (temples, houses, and cafes).
Paper long abstract:
This paper draws from an extensive ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Qingtian County (Zhejiang), the region from where most of Chinese migrants in Spain come from. In the last three decades a strong migration culture has been developed in this area, where people who have not migrated and have not intention to do so are also involved in the social lives of their relatives and friends living in European countries, mostly Italy and Spain.
Transnational ties and practices in Qingtian are expressed and embodied in concrete material support, particularly in objects or commodities and in the places or buildings where they were emplaced. These objects and buildings - as properties of material culture - have an agency and a capacity to act beyond their representation value and, thus, play a key role in the Qingtianese mobility and migration culture. By focusing our gaze on the objects, their circulation, and the places where they are emplaced, interact and express their social value, this paper underscores the relationships between various social actors involved in the mobility between Qingtian and Spain: migrants, returnees and non-migrants.
Two methodological and theoretical perspectives are significantly involved in the present research. First the perspectives that approach the social meaning and agency of objects and commodities by focusing on their materiality and circulation (Appadurai 1986; Gell 1998), and secondly the methodological approach to transnational links through a space lens (Bivand Erdal 2011; Gielis 2009; Massey 1994). Both perspectives are based on the relational character of material culture and the social interaction between objects, people and places.
The power of mobile materialities: human movement, objects and the worlds they create [ANTHROMOB]