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Internal and international migrant communities in the Pearl River Delta/ China – linking informal migration dynamics, global change and urban health



During the first two year-phase (2007/2008) with the focus on “Informal migrant communities and health strategies in urban villages of Pearl River Delta/China” the project achieved a deepened understanding of the complex and interdependent processes of massive megaurbanization and tremendous (partly informal) rural-urban migration into the PRD, the consequential emergence of migrant settlements – the urban villages – and the collapsed-health-care system against the background of China’s social and economic transition and global change. In the current phase (2009/2010) the focus on the topic of migration and megaurban health is sustained, but extended in four respects:

  1. besides urban villages a broader variety of internal migrant communities will be included, with a focus on such groups that are highly at risk in terms of health (such as migrants working with electronic waste);
  2. the analysis of informal dimensions of migrant’s access to health care will be extended to other spheres of urban social services and infrastructure to better understand the mechanisms of informal dynamics within and beyond migrant communities;
  3. international migrants in China from developing and transitional countries will be integrated, as many parallels were found concerning their legal status and consequential access to assets;
  4. increasing attention will be paid to the role of local and international NGO’s and emerging new forms of governance related to migration and health in the Pearl River Delta.

Overall aim is the development of a theoretical and comparative framework on the interlinkages of global change, national transition, migration, the changing urban social sphere and the emergence of informal structures. Extended to our broader frame, we keep up our initial research questions:

  1. How are different groups of migrants affected by the devastated social service system and infrastructure;
  2. how do different stakeholders react;
  3. how are different levels of administration reacting to this complex interplay of local, national and supranational agents;
  4. how does this condition China’s social, economical and political stability?

Institutional affiliation and contact

The project is located at the Institute of East Asian Studies of the Free University of Berlin and the Department of Geography of the University of Cologne. Research is conducted in close collaboration with geographers and anthropologists of the Sun Yat-sen University of Guangzhou. Intensive cooperation and scientific exchange within the Priority Program has especially been established with the "Climate Health" project (PRD 4) and "Dhaka-INNOVATE" project (Dhaka 3).

Department of Geography

University of Cologne
50923 Cologne

Institute of East Asian Studies
Free University of Berlin

Ehrenbergstr. 26/28
14195 Berlin

Project Coordinators

Prof. Dr. Frauke Kraas                       Prof. Dr. Bettina Gransow
Tel.: +49-221-470-7050                      Tel.:+49-30-8385-6902/-3598
f.kraas[at]uni-koeln.de                        bgransow[at]zedat.fu-berlin.de

Dipl.-Geogr. Tabea Bork
Tel.: +49-221-470-6191

Research Associates

Dipl.-Geogr. Tabea Bork                     Dipl.-Polit. Yuan Yuan
Tel.: +49-221-470-6191                       Tel.: +49-30-8385-6902
t.bork[at]uni-koeln.de                          Yuan_Yuan[at]web.de

Research Partners in China:

Prof. Dr. Xue Desheng                          Prof. Dr. Zhou Daming
Geography & Planning School                Dept. of Anthropology
Sun Yat-sen University                           Sun Yat-sen University
135 Xinggang West Road                      135 Xinggang West Road
510275 P.R. China                                 510275 P. R. China
Tel: +86-20-8411-1949/2332                Tel.: +86-20-8411-4286
eesxds[at]mail.sysu.edu.cn                   hsszdam[at]mail.sysu.edu.cn