Dreams of Flight with Fran Martin

12th May 2022

“On one hand, unmarried middle-class [Chinese] women in the single-child generations are encouraged to develop themselves as professional human capital through international education, molding themselves into independent, cosmopolitan, career-oriented individuals. On the other, strong neo-traditionalist state, social, and familial pressures of the post-Mao era push them back toward marriage and family by age thirty.”

In her new book, Dreams of Flight, Associate Professor Fran Martin from the University of Melbourne explores how young Chinese women negotiate competing pressures on their identity while studying abroad. Through her narrative, Fran examines these women’s motivations for studying in Australia and traces their embodied and emotional experiences of urban life, social media worlds, work in low-skilled and professional jobs, romantic relationships, religion, Chinese patriotism, and changed self-understanding after study abroad. The book illustrates how emerging forms of gender, class, and mobility fundamentally transform the basis of identity for a whole generation of Chinese women.

Dreams of Flight’s fundamental argument is that understandings and practices of gender are inseparable from middle-class Chinese students’ experiences of educational mobility.

Educational Mobility and the Making of Gendered Subjects

On 31 May 2022, Fran will talk about educational mobility and the making of gendered subjects at a special event, Dreams of Flight: The Lives of Chinese Women Students in the West. The event is hosted by the ANU School of Culture, History & Language (CHL) and the CHL Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Committee, with additional support from the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW) and the University of Sydney.

The live panel discussion will be facilitated by CHL’s Professor Ari Heinrich. There will also be a panel Chaired by CHL's Dr Ying Xin Show in conversation with postgrads Qing Guan (ANU) and Sophia Huei-Ling Chen (University of Sydney).

For more information and for the opportunity to access the book at a discount before 16 May, click here.

About Fran

Fran has to her credit a significant body of work around themes related to Chinese student mobility and gender. Fran's best known research focuses on television, film, literature and other forms of cultural production in contemporary transnational China (The People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), with a specialisation in transnational flows and representations and cultures of gender and sexuality.

Fluent in Mandarin, Fran started learning the language in primary school. Later, she studied Chinese language and literature at Beijing Second Foreign Languages Institute and East China Normal University (1989–1991). She then spent another two years researching in Taiwan.

She is currently working on a five-year ARC Future Fellowship project that uses longitudinal ethnography to research the social and subjective experiences of young women from China studying and living in Australia.

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