Australia is among the world’s top destinations for international students, with around 1 in 5 undergraduate students enrolling in Australian universities now being international. China is by far Australia’s largest source of international students, and over half of these students are women.

Mobile Study / Mobile Selves is a 5-year study of Chinese women students in Australian universities, conducted by Associate Professor Fran Martin as a Future Fellowship project funded by the Australian Research Council (FT 140100222, 2015 – 2020). A/Prof Martin is conducting in-depth ethnographic research with a core group of 50 female students from China who are studying or have studied in universities in Melbourne. From before their departure from China through to their postgraduate destinations, the study is building a picture of how these young women’s time in Australia affects both their gendered and their national-cultural identity.

Who are these women when they arrive in Australia – and who do they become?

The current wave of female educational migration from China reflects both young Chinese women’s mobile, transnational orientation and the increased individualization of their life projects: a sense of “living for oneself” as much as living for others. Motivated by much more than just the pursuit of degrees, these young women are engaged in projects of individualized self-making through their educational journeys. Full of hopes for personal autonomy and cosmopolitan experience, they are as yet unconstrained by the gendered demands of married life while also geographically removed from everyday obligations to natal family. The hypothesis that this project seeks to test through in-depth, longitudinal research is that young Chinese women’s experiences while studying abroad significantly affect their negotiation of the tensions between familial versus individual and national versus transnational identity: two sets of contradictions that centrally define the current generation of Chinese urban women’s sense of identity.

Read a research showcase about this study on the University of Melbourne website and a discussion piece on the China Policy Institute: Analysis website.


澳大利亚是世界上最受欢迎的留学地之一, 每五个澳洲本科生中就有一个是国际留学生。其中最大的留学生来源国是中国, 在这些来自中国的留学生里, 有一半以上是女性。

求学/自我求索 是一个专注于在澳洲大学学习的中国女留学生的研究项目, 为期五年。该项目由澳大利亚研究理事会出资 (FT 140100222, 2015 – 2020), 由未来院士马嘉兰副教授主持。马嘉兰副教授用深入的,民俗日志式的方法, 对50
核心参与者的学习生活经历进行跟踪研究。 所有的参与者都是要么曾经,要么正在墨尔本的高校学习的中国女性。 从她们还在中国即将踏上留学之路时,到她们学成之后, 此项研究将逐步呈现留学澳大利亚的经历是如何影响这些年轻学生做为女性的性别角色认同, 和做为中国人的国家和文化认同。

来到澳大利亚时,她们是谁 ? 她们后来变成了谁?

这一波中国女性留学潮反应出中国年轻女子在做人生计划时,着眼于对跨国生存适应力的培养和更注重个人的发展: 要‘为自己活’ 。 为了追求远大于 一纸文凭的将来,她们踏上求学之旅, 全身投入到自我成长 的挑战中来。她们对掌控个人生活和体验国际世界充满希望,她们尚未涉足婚姻,不必被相关的性别角色 困扰,她们远离家人, 可以从日常责任中剥离出来。 这个项目就是希望通过深入而 长期地研究,验证以下假说:留学对年轻中国女性的影响是深远的, 影响着她们在家庭和个人, 国家感和国际感之间如何寻找和平衡: 这两套核心但相互矛盾的社会体系,直接影响着当代中国都市女性的自我意识和社会身份。


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