American Expatriate Teachers in China




Thigpen, Norris

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This thesis examines American expatriate teachers working in the People‘s Republic of China. Principally, it examines the various methods by which, and places in which, teachers create, maintain, and transgress boundaries, both physical and cultural. Based on participant observation and semi-structured interviews, the thesis focuses on boundaries in both the public and private spheres, such as large-scale social events, everyday routines and places, and the homes in which teachers live. These boundaries exist not only between expatriate teachers and local Chinese, but also between expatriate teachers and other expatriates. The multiplicity of boundaries that the teachers in China must negotiate suggests a need for a refuge, a physical and emotional place in which they may relax. That refuge is most closely linked to the idea of ―home,‖ in both its physical and cultural senses. But it is difficult for the teachers to fully create or recreate such a home due to their deterritorialization and the fragmentation (or at least multiplicity) of their identities. Since it may be impossible to fully reassemble the home once people leave their countries of origin, the idea of a transnational life may seem appropriate. But even here, the teachers face difficulties since the technologies that permit time-space compression are powerless in the face of the half-day time difference between China and North America.



Expatriate, Home, Teacher, Boundaries, China, Transnationalism