Unravelling the Ambivalent Mobilities of Three Gorges Dam Young-Adult Migrants in Guangdong

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-194
Journal / PublicationChina Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


The Three Gorges Dam project (1994–2009) in Chongqing of China created 1.35 million forced migrants. As the region next to the reservoir could not accept all the displaced, 96,000 were relocated to 11 provinces/cities. Among these “out-bound” (waiqian) migrants, 9,007 were moved 2,300 kilometers away to coastal Guangdong from 2000 to 2004. Through soliciting testimonies from 32 young-adult “dam migrants” (currently aged 18–39) in Guangdong, this article identifies a commonly shared ambivalence over the meaning of displacement such that the informants—after more than a decade of resettlement—still maintain different degrees of feeling as both a stranger and a local, as both a Guangdonger (Guangdong ren) and a Chongqinger (Chongqing ren), and as both a sojourner and a dweller. It is argued that they possess more complex movement imaginaries than older, first-generation migrants, and experience a more complex mode of marginalization. The political implications of the ambivalently mobile population are discussed as its existence echoes the emerging governmentality scholarship on the migrant experience.