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Everyday strategies of rural migrants: assembling skills in Mala tang production


Kaufmann, Lena (2016). Everyday strategies of rural migrants: assembling skills in Mala tang production. Journal of Chinese Dietary Culture, 12(2):63-112.

Abstract

This article aims to show the value of viewing migration through the lens of skill, by considering the case study of a restaurant selling <i>mala tang</i>, a Sichuanese hotpot-like noodle soup. Inspired by the German anthropologist Gerd Spittler’s concept of “work,” the skills needed to work in a <i>mala tang</i> restaurant are analysed. Data was collected through ethnographic fieldwork in 2007/08 in a restaurant run by rural migrants from Anhui in urban Shanghai. The purpose of this study is to fill a gap in the research on food and migration, by focusing on migrant work and related skills, and to add the aspect of fast food prepared in informal street restaurants by rural migrants to the corpus of research on the Shanghainese culinary landscape. It is argued that focusing on the everyday strategies of migrants, and particularly on the work and (food-) skills of these migrants, provides a useful perspective through which to gain an in-depth understanding of migration processes. These include migrants’ agency, migrants’ motivations, the organisation of their migration process and everyday lives, and the overall dynamic of the migration process.

Abstract

This article aims to show the value of viewing migration through the lens of skill, by considering the case study of a restaurant selling <i>mala tang</i>, a Sichuanese hotpot-like noodle soup. Inspired by the German anthropologist Gerd Spittler’s concept of “work,” the skills needed to work in a <i>mala tang</i> restaurant are analysed. Data was collected through ethnographic fieldwork in 2007/08 in a restaurant run by rural migrants from Anhui in urban Shanghai. The purpose of this study is to fill a gap in the research on food and migration, by focusing on migrant work and related skills, and to add the aspect of fast food prepared in informal street restaurants by rural migrants to the corpus of research on the Shanghainese culinary landscape. It is argued that focusing on the everyday strategies of migrants, and particularly on the work and (food-) skills of these migrants, provides a useful perspective through which to gain an in-depth understanding of migration processes. These include migrants’ agency, migrants’ motivations, the organisation of their migration process and everyday lives, and the overall dynamic of the migration process.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:790 Sports, games & entertainment
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Uncontrolled Keywords:mala tang, food and migration, everyday strategies, skill, Shanghai
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:11 Nov 2016 14:11
Last Modified:02 Feb 2018 10:40
Publisher:Foundation of Chinese Dietary Culture
ISSN:1811-9301
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:http://www.fcdc.org.tw/english/default.aspx (Organisation)

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