In 2004, Vanessa Fong offered a groundbreaking ethnographic exploration of the social, economic, and psychological development of children born since China's one-child policy was introduced in 1979. Her book Only Hope left readers with a picture of stressed, ambitious adolescents for whom elite status was the ultimate goal, though relatively few were in a position to achieve it.
In Paradise Redefined, Fong tracks the experiences of many in her initial cohort of Chinese only-children—now college-age—as they study abroad in Australia, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, North America, and Singapore. While earning a prestigious college education in China is the main path to elite status, study abroad provides an alternative channel by offering a particularly flexible "developed world" citizenship. This flexible citizenship promises the potential for greater happiness and freedom afforded by transnational mobility, but also brings with it unexpected suffering, ambivalence, and disappointment. Paradise Redefined offers insights into China's globalization by examining the expectations and experiences that affect how various Chinese students make decisions about studying abroad, staying abroad, immigration, and returning home.
About the author
Vanessa L. Fong is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Amherst College, and author of Only Hope: Coming of Age under China's One-Child Policy (Stanford, 2004), winner of the 2005 Francis Hsu Book Prize from the Society for East Asian Anthropology.
"This book is engaging and easy to read. It is also a serious scholarly work, rigorous in methodology and comprehensive in analysis. Readers interested in transnational mobility and migration will not be disappointed. Paradise Redefined is not only a book about study abroad: it is also a thoughtful reflection on the diverse dilemmas and challenges presented by transnational life."
—Jing Xu, Comparative Education Review
"This book is informative and insightful, with its rich and original data, unique and important subject matter, and carefully crafted analysis. It makes a significant contribution to transnational studies and China studies. It is a must-read book not only for understanding China's unique singleton generation, but also for the Twenty-first Century China."
—Xin Huang, Pacific Affairs
"Despite the obvious methodological challenges, which she describes in her 'Introduction,' Fong followed students to the UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore, among others. The result is a rich and enjoyable book which leaves the reader feeling that he/she has genuinely achieved a deeper understanding of the people behind the much debated topic of China's role in the world."
—Merridan Varrall, Anthropos
"Fong's new book follows the experiences of young Chinese students in countries such as Ireland, Australia, the USA, Canada, Singapore, Britain, and Japan. Her exhaustive data collection amongst these students involves a combination of classic ethnographic methods with a firm quantitative twist at times, providing an excellent overview of this increasingly significant transnational flow of people from China . . . Both the breadth and method of Fong's ethnography is impressive, standing testament to her experience as a researcher."
—Jamie Coates, The China Journal
"Fong's study of Chinese students who study abroad could not be more timely . . . Fong's excellent ethnographic study looks behind the stereotypes of developed v. developing world and puts a human face on the phenomenon of global neoliberalism . . . As her students report that they miss China, their families, their social connections, and their way of life, Fong proves that despite the hype to the contrary, sometimes there really is no place like home."
—May-Lee Chai, Asian Affairs: An American Review
"[A] model of migration studies . . . Any scholar with the drive and skill to carry off such a remarkable research design deserves our applause."
—David Zweig, The China Quarterly
"Vanessa Fong has made a remarkable contribution by her meticulous following of a generation of Chinese single children through their educational careers, first at home and now abroad. The impact of this generation on the world will be immense, and this is a key window on how their lives are unfolding."
—Alan Smart, University of Calgary
"From Only Hope to Paradise Redefined, Fong's unique, longitudinal research offers an invaluable key to better understand the singleton generation in China who have come of age in the first decade of the 21st century, and will to a great extent determine the future of the most populous country on earth."
—Yunxiang Yan, University of California, Los Angeles
"With Paradise Redefined,Vanessa Fong has produced another well-researched and innovative account.Those familiar with Only Hope will welcome this impressive transnational sequel, and a wider audience of globalization and migration scholars, educators, policy makers, and China scholars will find it a timely, authoritative, and unique source of insight into Chinese students abroad."
—Nicole Constable, University of Pittsburgh