My research interests include globalization, capitalism, family and kinship, social change, clothing and the clothing industry, economic anthropology, and anthropological political economy. My geographic area of interest is China and East Asia.
My current research clusters around two subject areas: the Chinese fashion industry and Chinese family businesses. My overall angle to the first project is to use the rise of the Chinese fashion industry as a window to observe and reflect on the tremendous changes that have taken place in contemporary China. This research has resulted in a book entitled, The Chinese Fashion Industry: An Ethnographic Approach (Dress, Body, Culture). This book examines how state politics, market forces, local social and cultural factors, and the global political economy have shaped the Chinese fashion industry and the emergence of Chinese fashion professionals. The book consists of two main parts. The first part offers the historical context and conditions that paved the way for the rise of the Chinese fashion industry. The second part examines the different contexts in which fashion is created based on first-hand research and through case studies of fashion professionals.
My other ongoing research project studies Chinese family firms with a focus on second-generation family business entrepreneurs and the process of intergenerational transition and succession in Zhejiang province. This research aims to discover: a) What are the factors that affect the would-be successors’ decisions as to whether or not to succeed their parents in their family firms? b) How do these factors affect the lives and careers of the would-be successors? And c) whether distinct subjectivities of the second-generation entrepreneurs are formed in contrast to those of their parents? In 2014, I have started to extend this research to a comparative study of family business succession in Mainland China and Taiwan. This research has been supported by U of L research grants and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.
Currently accepting graduate students with interests in cultural anthropology.