Passing Through Shanghai
How to cite this title

Sander, Marie: Passing Through Shanghai: Ethnographic Insights into the Mobile Lives of Expatriate Youths, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 2016 (Heidelberg Studies on Transculturality, Vol. 1).

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Creative Commons License BY-SA 4.0

ISBN 9783946054054 (PDF)
ISBN 9783946054030 (Softcover)
ISBN 9783946054047 (Hardcover)

Published 28.04.2016.


Marie Sander

Passing Through Shanghai

Ethnographic Insights into the Mobile Lives of Expatriate Youths

Heidelberg Studies on Transculturality

Passing Through Shanghai examines how children experience international mobility. Focusing on a specific yet diverse group of expatriate youths in contemporary Shanghai, the book investigates how children negotiate cultural identity when they are subject to the highly mobile and often privileged lifestyle associated with their parent’s international careers. The ethnographic fieldwork that informs the book was carried out in Shanghai from 2010 to 2012 and focused on expatriate teenagers’ everyday practices, their lives at international schools, their engagement with the city, their dreams and aspirations, as well as their questions of belonging. The book’s ethnographic approach captures the “in-between” state of moving while growing up and explores teenage practices and positionings in this transitory situation. The teenagers’ own perspectives and experiences of living in expatriate communities contribute to a larger view of the interdependence and contradictions between the aspired flexibility of twenty-first century identities and the rigidity of cultural divisions based on nationality, ethnicity, gender, and class.

Media coverage

Interview with Marie Sander on DRadio Wissen 14/04/2014.

"The book makes a clear contribution to existing gaps in knowledge about the mobile lives of children of expatriates, including that of cross-cultural identity negotiations, emotional and affective lives, and the work of managing ‘dwelling’ and ‘moving’ at the same time. Scholars, educators, and students will find this to be a useful case study offering rich materials that connect to critical questions around young people’s temporary sojourns and migrant youth cultures."

Yi’En Cheng (2018) Passing through Shanghai: ethnographic insights into the mobile lives of expatriate youths, Children's Geographies 16:2, 220-221 .

Marie Sander is an anthropologist who completed her doctoral degree at Heidelberg University in 2013. She previously read Cultural Studies with a focus on Cultural Anthropology as well as English Studies at Bremen University and the University of Tours. Her general research interests include questions of identity, migration, urban culture, and youth.

Front Matter
Dedication and Motto
Table of Contents
Part I: Getting Acquainted
Part II: Leaving
Part III: Arriving
Part IV: Living
Part V: Moving On