While work on gender and migration has grown signiﬁcantly, it has mostly addressed the experiences of female migrants; the experiences of male migrants are still understudied. Even less attention has been paid to male migrants and their heterosexuality. This paper is interested in Chinese masculinities, which in the migration literature have been discussed largely in relation to migration to the West. Discussions of low-wage Chinese masculinities have similarly been limited, with a focus on rural-urban migration within China. Empirically, this paper aims to contribute by investigating Chinese masculinities outside of China but in a non-Western setting. The arrival of low-wage migrants from China into Singapore’s majority-‘Chinese’ population not only enables an investigation of the hierarchies of Chinese masculinities but also unsettles the ‘Chinese’ ethnic category. I consider low-wage mainland Chinese migrant men’s raced, gendered and classed subjectivities and show that low-wage mainland Chinese migrant men in Singapore encounter dilemmas in their desires to seek intimacies beyond paid sex. I show that their dilemmas are informed by the discourse of respectable manhood and thrift, a discourse that is extended through a juxtaposition against Singaporean men.
Sylvia Ang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asian Migration Cluster, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Her research interests lie at the intersection of race and migration, including racism, co-ethnicity and Chineseness. She has published in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Gender, Place and Culture, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies and Cultural Studies Review. She is currently working on two projects: the first is a multi-sited grant project Transnational Relations, Ageing and Care Ethics (TRACE) where she investigates how older Singaporeans age and care in China; second, she is developing her PhD dissertation into a book preliminarily titled Contesting Chineseness: new Chinese migrants and the politics of co-ethnicity.
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Image: © Jason Tan – Chinese construction workers.