Accepted Paper:

How does love cross borders? Young Chinese middle-class women's experiences of transnational intimate relationships in Beijing  

Authors:

Daniel Nehring (Pusan National University)
Xiying Wang (Beijing Normal University)

Paper short abstract:

We explore Chinese middle-class women's experiences of transnational intimate relationships. Our participants experienced companionate relationship grounded in love, personal affinity, and mutual support. However, they encountered a number of problems particular to transnational couples.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores young Chinese middle-class women's experiences of transnational intimate relationships with Western men. Intimate encounters between young, highly educated, highly mobile professionals of different national and cultural backgrounds have received comparatively little attention in recent research. In particular, among this social group, there is little research on the ways in which intimate encounters are bound up with the socio-economic structures that encourage, facilitate or complicate transnational mobility. Our paper addresses these issues.

Our argument is based on 30 life story interviews conducted in Beijing in 2012. Most of the participants were Chinese-Western couples who, at the time of the interview, were engaged in a long-term dating or marital relationship.

We begin our argument by exploring the feelings and motivations that underpin participants' intimate lives. They experienced the relationship with their partners primarily as a companionate relationship grounded in love, personal affinity, and mutual support. However, in their everyday lives, they encountered issues particular to transnational couples. Living arrangements, relationships with parents-in-law, and childcare re-grounded our participants' intimate lives in the socio-cultural setting of Beijing and entailed difficult processes of transcultural adaptation and conflict. Building lasting relationships, they had to negotiate the constraints imposed on transnational couples by migration policies, labour markets, and social services, both in China and in their partners' countries of origin.

Panel P006
Global intimacies, local ties: the transformation of cross-border marriages in Asia (CLOSED- 4)