Nellie Chu
Assistant Professor of Anthropology at DKU Kunshan University

I received my Ph.D. degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to my doctorate, I earned a B.A. in International Relations at the University of California, Davis, where I developed my love for the anthropology of China. As a young student, I was compelled by the classic ethnographies written by Margery Wolf. Her cultural analysis of “the uterine family” was particularly inspirational for me. Wolf’s deep engagement with Chinese women and their kin-based relationships led me to pursue anthropology as a life-long endeavor.

Primarily trained in the anthropology of post-socialist China and the ethnography of global supply chains, I specialize in the intersecting topics of transnational capitalism, migration (transnational and domestic), counterfeit culture, gendered labor, industrialization, and urbanization.

My current book manuscript examines how Chinese, African, and South Korean migrant entrepreneurs in Guangzhou, China synchronize their life trajectories and changing subjectivities of labor with the boom and bust cycles that link the global commodity chains of fast fashion. Taking the tempos of market volatility as its objects of ethnographic analyses, my project provides an ethnographic case study of the heterogeneous and uneven rhythms that comprise the speculative dynamics of supply chain capitalism.

My work aims to demystify the globally-recognized “Made in China” label and show how the proliferation of small-scale and informal garment workshops and wholesale sites link China with other countries across the Global South. The devaluation of human lives and their labor across the developing world calls for finely tuned historical and ethnographic analyses of the spatial and temporal intersections between China’s post-socialist transformations and the emergence of transnational subcontracting.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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