The 21st century has seen growing numbers of seniors turning to migration in response to newfound challenges to traditional forms of retirement and old-age support, such as increased longevity, demographically aging populations, and global neoliberal trends reducing state welfare. Chinese-born migrants to the U.S. serve as an exemplary case of this trend, with 30 percent of all migrants since 1990 being at least 60 years old. This book tells their story, arguing that they demonstrate the significance of age as a mediating factor that is fundamentally important for considering how migration is experienced. The subjects of this study are situated at the crossroads of Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American experiences, embodying many of the ambiguities and paradoxes that complicate common understandings of each group. These are older individuals who have waited their whole lives to migrate to the U.S. to rejoin family but often experience unanticipated family conflict when they arrive. They are retirees living at the social and economic margins of American society who nonetheless find significant opportunities to achieve meaningful retired lifestyles. They are members of a diaspora spanning vast regional and ideological differences, yet their wellbeing hinges on everyday interactions with others in this diverse community. Their stories highlight the many possibilities for mutual engagement that connect Chinese and American ways of being and belonging in the world.
About the author
Nicole DeJong Newendorp is Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies and Lecturer on the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of Uneasy Reunions: Immigration, Citizenship, and Family Life in Post-1997 Hong Kong (Stanford, 2008).
"In this timely and intriguing book, Newendorp offers a vivid and insightful anthropological account of the unique and multifaceted experiences of Chinese senior migrants as well as their sustained struggles and aspirations for belonging, wellbeing, dignity, and the good life in American society. It propels readers to rethink the meanings and possibilities of retirement and aging in the age of global mobility."
—Li Zhang, University of California, Davis, author of In Search of Paradise and Strangers in the City
"Chinese Senior Migrants and the Globalization of Retirement is a thoroughly researched, well written, and engaging ethnographic study of contemporary Cantonese senior migration. Though centered in Boston's Chinatown, Newendorp skilfully contextualizes the migration stories of Cantonese seniors within broader historical trajectories of pre- and post-1949 Cantonese transnational migration, as she speaks to the broader phenomenon of the 'globalization of retirement.'"
—Andrea Louie, Michigan State University