Biao Xiang

Biao Xiang Professor of Social Anthropology

01865 612372

Xiang Biao is a Professor of Social Anthropology.

He has worked on various types of migration—internal and international, unskilled and highly-skilled, emigration, left behind and return—in China, India and Australia. Instead of taking migration as a distinct phenomenon to be explained, he sees migration as a particular means of social change that reveals larger forces at work. Through the lens of migration, he has examined the changing Chinese state, labour relations in the high-tech sector in India, and other political economy issues in Asia. Currently, Xiang is trying to understand why commercial recruitment intermediaries have become so prominent in unskilled labour migration in east Asia, given that modern institutions and technologies are supposed to be dis-embedding and dis-intermediating.

He is also developing an interest in transnational reproduction (what does it mean when an increasing number of nations have to rely on foreigners to reproduce themselves demographically and socially, and more people cross borders to nurture life, for instance as care-givers, patients, and students?), and ethnic relations in China (how do internal and international migrations affect the two pillars of the Chinese ethnicity policy: clear demarcation of autonomous regions and categorical division between domestic and foreign affairs?).

Xiang tries to promote a type of migration studies that is less fixated on migration as a behaviour and migrants as the subject. His general research approach is to integrate ethnographic research into institutional and especially political economy analysis. Please visit his ISCA page for more information.

How One Obscure Word Captures Urban China’s Unhappiness
Sixth Tone | 04/11/2020

Q&A With Anthropologist Xiang Biao on Northeast China’s Overseas Migrants
Sixth Tone | 19/03/2020


Labour MarketsLow Skilled MigrationTransnationalism