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Dr. Xia Zhang
Dr. Xia Zhang

Dr. Xia Zhang
Departmental Affiliate
PhD University of Pittsburgh 2011

Xia Zhang is a cultural anthropologist and Chinese folklorist. She does research on globalization, urbanization, migration, gender (esp. masculinity), new media, youth culture, and recently on family and mental health in China and East Asia. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011, and earned her MA in Chinese Folklore from Beijing Normal University.

She is currently working on multiple research projects. She is preparing her dissertation “Carrying Out Modernity: Work, Migration, and Masculinity” as a book manuscript for publication in the US. Her dissertation examines the “bangbang army,” about half a million Chinese rural migrant men who work as porters and carriers in the metropolis of Chongqing, southwest China. It investigates how local history, cultural logics of urban development, and changing gender ideology in post-reform China have come together to shape these migrant men’s experience of gender and labor inequalities in post-reform China.

 She recently started a new project. Tentatively titled as “Parents Are Poison: Child Abuse, New Media, and Anti-Parent Sentiments in China,” it examines over 118 thousand Chinese adult children who, by using western developmental psychology and family therapy theories, explicitly accuse their parents of misdemeanors such as physical abuse and sex discrimination on one of China’s most popular social network websites, When the revival of Confucianism made a strong comeback in post-reform China, and as the Chinese government fervently advocates the Confucian doctrine of filial piety in the realms of moral education, such outcry from self-identified child abuse victims carries exceptional weight and significance. Drawing on data collected from ethnographic fieldwork in China and online postings, this project investigates the complexity of the cultural understanding of child abuse and neglect in contemporary China. It also scrutinizes the role that the new media play in in provoking a new imaginary of parenting and family ethics within China’s unique political and cultural context.

Another ongoing research project of hers explores China’s unemployed or underemployed well-educated Chinese young adults who live in urban slums in major cities. This project examines how global capitalism taps into young people’s innovative aspiration for profit and how the young generation uses new media to intervene in China’s radical social transformation and labor market deregulation.


Recent Publications


2016 (under review) “North American Despicable Man: Race, Class, and the (Re)making of Diasporic Chinese Masculinities in the United States,” in Derek Hird and Geng Song (ed). Between China and the world: transnational Chinese men and masculinities. University of Hong Kong Press.

2016 (forthcoming) (invited) ““Review of ‘Out to Work: Migration, Gender, and the Changing Lives of Rural Women in Contemporary China’ by Arianne M. Gaetano,” in American Anthropologist.

2016 "Labor, Masculinity and History: Bangbang Men in Chongqing, China," in Tiantian Zheng (ed), Cultural Politics of Gender and Sexuality in Asia. University of Hawaii Press. Pp. 124-139.

2016   “The Story Tellers and the Transformation of Myth-Telling in Contemporary China: A Case Study in Sigu Village of Chongqing City,” in The Ethnographic Study of Contemporary Oral Myth: Case Studies of Four Han Communities, ed. Lihui Yang. Taiwan: Siu Wei Zi Xun Press, Folklore and Folk Literature Series. Pp. 047-152. (Taiwanese Reprint of 2010 book chapter)

2015    “One Life For Sale: Youth Culture, Labor Politics, and New Idealism in China,” in Positions: Asia Critique, 23(3): 515-543.

2015    “Review of ‘The Impotence Epidemic: Men’s Medicine and Sexual Desire in Contemporary China’ by Everett Yuehong Zhang,” in Anthropological Quarterly, 88(3): 817-823.

2011    “Review of ‘Outcast Labour In Asia: Circulation and Informalization of the Workforce at the Bottom of the Economy’ by Jan Breman,” in Asia Pacific World, Vol.2 (1), Fall. Pp. 136-138.

2010    “Ziyou (Freedom), Occupation Choice, and Labor: Bangbang in Chongqing, People’s Republic of China,” in Migration and Class Composition in China, ed. Ralf Ruckus. Assoziation A: Berlin, Germany. Pp. 105-133. 

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Works available through PDX Scholar