Minhua Ling

Minhua LING

Associate Professor, Anthropology and Sociology
Spoken languages
Chinese, English
Areas of expertise
  • Urbanisation
  • Migration and Mobility
  • Sustainability
  • State-society relations
  • Foodways
  • Socioecological relations
Geographical Region of Expertise
  • China
  • East Asia


PhD from: Yale University

As a sociocultural anthropologist, Minhua Ling uses ethnography as a basis to explore three sets of related research interests: 1) the various forms of mobility and how they are shaped, experienced, and interpreted; 2) the (re)making of inequality in everyday life; and 3) the challenges to sustainable livelihood facing underprivileged individuals and communities. Her first book, The Inconvenient Generation: Migrant Youth Coming of Age on Shanghai’s Edge offers the first longitudinal study of China’s second-generation rural-to-urban migrant youth navigating from schools to labour and consumer markets and examines urban governance through everyday practices of inclusion and exclusion. She taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as Assistant and Associate Professor (2013-22) after receiving her PhD in Anthropology from Yale University, and has been a 2022-23 Institute for Advanced Study Fellow, during which she has been working on her second book project on socioecological transformation in rural China after three decades of rural-urban migration and state-led urbanisation.



  • Ling, Minhua. 2020. The Inconvenient Generation: Migrant Youth Coming of Age on Shanghai’s Edge. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • Ling, Minhua. 2021. “Container housing: Formal informality and deterritorialised home-making amid bulldozer urbanism in Shanghai.” Urban Studies. 58 (6): 1141-1157.
  • Ling, Minhua. 2017. “Returning to No Home: Educational Remigration and Displacement in Rural China.” Anthropological Quarterly 90 (3): 715-742. 
  • Ling, Minhua. 2017. “Precious Son, Reliable Daughter: Redefining Son Preference in Migrant Households in Urban China.” The China Quarterly 229: 150-171.
  • Ling, Minhua. 2015. “‘Bad students go to vocational schools!’: Education, Social Reproduction and Migrant Youth in Urban China.” The China Journal 73: 108-131.

current research project(s) and/or publication(s)

Book project tentatively entitled “Half-emptiness: Aspiration and Angst in Rural China and Beyond.”

“Reconfiguring Home: Rural-bound Return and Translocal Householding in Post-Reform China.” Book chapter In States of Return: Migration and Mobility in a Bordered World, edited by Deborah A. Boehm and Mikaela Rogozen-Soltar, New York University Press.

Special issue “Lockdown in Shanghai and Beyond: China’s Zero Covid and its Discontents” in HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. Contributing an essay “Food Shortage and its Discontents during the Shanghai Lockdown” and a co-authored introduction “Zero-Covid was forever, until it was no more.”

Minhua Ling