University of Oxford social anthropologist to give Asia Lecture

Xiang Biao head shot

Xiang Biao, a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Oxford, will deliver the annual 2012 Asia Lecture in November.

Xiang’s talk, “The Intermediary Trap: International Labour Recruitment, Transnational Governance and State-Citizen Relations in China,” will take place Nov. 5 at 519 York Research Tower, Keele Xiang Biao head shot campus. A reception will begin at 2:30pm, followed by the lecture at 3pm. Everyone is welcome to attend the event hosted by the York Centre of Asian Research (YCAR).

Xiang Biao

“Dr. Xiang is a young and exciting anthropologist working on migration in Asia. His work comprises detailed ethnographic studies in multiple contexts including India, China, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Australia. He epitomizes the ‘open’ and ‘non-territorial’ concept of Asia-as-region that we espouse at YCAR,” says Philip F. Kelly, YCAR director.

Xiang’s forthcoming book Making Order from Transnational Mobility (Princeton University Press) is the result of four years of field research across East Asia.

Beyond the appeal of Xiang’s pan-Asian ethnographies, his work on the transnational governance regimes that regulate migration will also be of interest to a wide range of scholars at York, says Kelly.

Xiang’s lecture will trace how transnationally-linked commercial labor recruiters gain a dominant position in cultivating, facilitating and controlling migration.  These intermediaries render themselves indispensable both for migrating workers and for the states seeking to make order from migration.

The intermediary trap is more dynamic and complex than a simple “capture” by identifiable interest groups and is deeply implicated in changing state-citizen relations in China. Rooted in Chinese and other Asian states’ agenda to liberalize socioeconomic life without compromising sovereign power, the intermediary trap may become a worldwide phenomenon with the resurgence of state power alongside a continuing neoliberal hegemony beyond Asia.

Through its Asia Lecture Series, YCAR showcases some the best of scholarship on Asia and initiates discussion in both academic and non-academic communities about major issues relating to Asia in a global context.

For more information about YCAR, visit the YCAR website.