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Research Interests
Globalization and transnational processes; Political economy of the self; Intermediaries and intermediarisation

Research Area(s)
China and Southeast Asia (Laos)

Kelly (Wanjing) Chen’s research investigates the contemporary globalization of Chinese capital through the lens of migration. She studies how Chinese in Laos reposition themselves as commercial intermediaries orchestrating inflows of Chinese capital, especially since the country’s attractiveness as an investment destination has been elevated by the Belt and Road initiative.  Her working monograph examines how these diasporic subjects, brutalised by China’s fast and furious development in the past, now find themselves determined to ride this wave of investment in order to attain the wealth and status they aspire for. Chen’s dissertation, based on this topic, won the American Association of Geography’s 2020 Award for Best Dissertation in Economic Geography. Her work has appeared in Economic Geography, Political Geography, and China Quarterly, as well as public outlets such as the BBC, the China in Africa Podcast, and Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly. Chen is currently developing new research projects on the absurdity of pandemic-related mobility governance and the social lives of platform economy in China.

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