The Queer Affection for IT Industry: Trans Chinese migrants and their “labour” migration to Japan

November 2023
Conferences, workshops and debates

Conférence organisée le 7 novembre 2023 de 10h à 12h en salle de réunion du Lise (2, rue conté, accès 39, 3ème étage, couloir de droite).

Intervention de Xinyu Promio WANG, professeure assistante à l’université de Tokyo, pour présenter une partie de ses travaux de recherche portant sur les migrants numériques et queers chinois au Royaume-Uni et au Japon.

Dr WANG is Assistant Professor at Tokyo College, UTIAS, The University of Tokyo. Their research focuses in digital media, minorities (especially trans women) and identities; and they are interested in the intersections of queer, mobility, national and transnational identities in the context of globalisation and digitalisation. This talk will be discussed by Dr ZANI (Cnam, Lise-CNRS).

This ethnographic research unfolds trans Chinese migrants’ seemingly particular affection for careers in the IT (Information and Technology) industry. By tapping into their lived experiences pre- and post-emigration, it explores their aspirations in this specific industrial sector in relation to their gender, ethnicity, and nationality, as well as their local and transnational migratory trajectories. Findings presented in this paper are drawn from extensive qualitative data that I collected between 2019 to 2023 through in-depth interviews with over 30 trans women from mainland China. The empirical evidence sheds light on the complexity of the so-called labour migration of trans Chinese migrants. It reveals how their “affection” for the IT industry essentially reflects their perceived marginality, censorship, and suppression in the homeland, given the way they have been portrayed in both official and popular discourses as morally incompatible with and politically questionable to the Chinese nation-state. In this context, this research argues that their Sino-Japanese labour mobility to the IT industry serves less as a channel for the sake of labour migration but as an essential way for them to relocate for safety and security, as well as to exercise their agency in their queer identity quests.