Through June 23, 2019
University of Chicago Center in Beijing
20th Floor, Culture Plaza
59A Zhong Guan Cun Street
Haidian District, Beijing
Organized by Paola Iovene of the University of Chicago and Zhang Huiyu 张慧瑜of Peking University, this interdisciplinary workshop brought together academics, independent scholars, social activists, musicians, and graduate students from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Workshop participants discussed the diverse cultural practices, such as writing, performance, and use of social media, through which migrant workers cope with experiences of displacement and seek to build new spaces of belonging.
The workshop, which emerged from a conversation between the co-organizers facilitated by Liang Xueming of the UChicago Center in Beijing in November 2017, aimed to foster a dialogue between scholars in the Humanities and those in the Social Sciences, and to strengthen connections between academics, independent scholars, and activists. A total of 21 presentations were divided into several panels, covering poetry, performance, migrant workers’ everyday media practices, and historical perspectives. Lively discussions and a musical performance by Duan Yu 段玉，the lead singer of the band Jiuye 九野，followed the paper presentations.
The workshop has allowed participants from diverse backgrounds to meet and discuss experiences, as well as set up a network dedicated to exchanging materials and information on contemporary workers’ cultures. The organizers hope to hold a small follow-up workshop next year, and a larger interdisciplinary conference in 2021 or 2022, both at the UChicago Center in Beijing.