The purpose of this paper is to examine the efforts of an ethnic Miao migrant worker association to recreate and engage with festivals both in the host society of the Pearl River Delta and back home in Southeastern Guizhou province of Southwest China. It analyzes how and under what conditions the disadvantaged migrant workers collectively demonstrate and assert their cultural identity in festival activities, rekindling and strengthening their ethnic consciousness.Design/methodology/approachBased on ethnographic field data, this study focuses on the connections between migrant workers’ lives in modern host societies and their traditional culture back home. Special attention is paid to the temporal dynamics of migrant workers’ cultural identity and socio-economic development.FindingsThe leaders of the Miao migrants’ association created network linkages to channel the flow of labor, capital and culture between the host society and the migrants’ hometown, and made efforts to secure institutional embeddedness at both ends of the flow. Their use of festivals and related heritage as cultural capital has facilitated the cultivation of network linkages and institutional embeddedness for economic advancement and overcoming ethnic prejudices and institutional disadvantages.Originality/valueBy illustrating how the economic development has been imbricated with culture, this research enhances understanding about the role of network linkage and institutional embeddedness in the flow of labor, capital and culture between host society and home place of migrant communities.
Asian Education and Development Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 6, 2020
Keywords: Festival; Pearl River Delta; Institutional embeddedness; Migrant worker association; Network linkage; Re-ethnicization