Marriage, Migration, and Race across the Chinese-Russian Borders

Marriage, Migration, and Race across the Chinese-Russian Borders


Marriage, Migration, and Race across the Chinese-Russian Borders

Dr. Elena Barabantseva (University of Manchester)

Time: April 26, Monday at 5pm, Amsterdam time

Venue: Zoom



In recent decades Chinese state media and public discourses started portraying post-Soviet Slavic women as ideal foreign wives for Chinese men. ‘Russian brides’ became frequent subjects of TV dramas, newspaper articles and blogs, all these recounting happy-ending stories of the ‘ideal’ Chinese-Russian model of international marriage. This is surprising not only because marriages with foreigners were traditionally looked down in China, but also because of the peculiar gendered and racialised character of these representations of the Chinese-foreign marriages. The representations favour a ‘Russian wife-Chinese husband’ model of international marriages. This is important because the domains of marriage and family are related to the image of a desired Chinese nation that the party-state conjures and projects to its domestic audiences. In this talk based on her work-in-progress book project Dr. Barabantseva share her observations about the historical dynamics, representations, governing practices and life stories of the migration and marriage experiences of Russian-speaking women in China. She draws attention to the complex relations between the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and the politics of reproduction, marriage, migration, citizenship and race.


 Elena Barabantseva bio:

Elena Barabantseva is a Senior Lecturer in the Politics Department at the University of Manchester. She received her PhD in International Relations at the University of Manchester in 2006. Her research interests lie at the intersection of borders, identity, migration, intimacy, and citizenship in the context of globalizing China.  She is the author of Overseas Chinese, Ethnic Minorities and Nationalism: De-Centering China (Routledge 2010). She experiments with post-positivist forms of inquiry, drawing on in particular on archival, genealogical, ethnographic, and audio-visual methods. Her filmmaking for research practice has resulted in the production of two documentary films: 'British Born Chinese' (2015, 47min), and 'Border People' (2018, 14min).


This event is sponsored by the ERC-funded ChinaWhite research project ( It is free and open to the public, but registration is required.