Narrating translocality: Dagong poetry and the subaltern imagination

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Journal Article
Mobilities, 2010, 5 (3), pp. 291 - 309
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In Chinese, 'dagong' means 'working for the boss'. Dagong migrants constitute the most populous group of China's mobile population, so knowledge of their cultural practices is crucial to understanding how globalisation and mobility rework people's sense of locality. This paper is an analysis of poems by dagong workers - a cultural phenomenon that is relatively unknown both outside and inside China. Drawing on ethnographic insights into China's rural migrants, this paper engages the concept of translocality to explore three recurring themes in dagong poetry: alienation of the body in the industrial regime; displacement and homesickness; and disenchantment with the south. The analysis shows that, for the same reason that mobility itself is a stratified process, the means of addressing translocal desires and longings are also stratified. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.
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