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Personal profile

Research interests

Juan Zhang is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, UoB. Prior to Bristol, Juan held research and teaching positions at the University of Queensland (Australia), University of New England (Australia), and the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.

Trained as a social anthropologist, Juan’s research centres on transnational migration and mobilities, gender and labour, urbanisation and development, borders and control. With extensive research experiences in China, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines, Juan has an established track record of publishing and collaborating with colleagues across national and disciplinary boundaries. Her work has been published by journals including Environment and Planning D & A, Current Sociology, Gender, Place & Culture, Mobilities, contributing to theoretical debates on migration, work, identity, and globalising industries.

Juan’s doctoral research provided an ethnography on strategies of survival by communities living at the margins of China and Vietnam, with a focus on everyday cross-border interactions as a catalyst for local and regional socioeconomic transformation. Her co-edited a book The Art of Neighbouring: Making Relations Across China's Borders (2017, University of Amsterdam Press) presents the different ways in which marginalized communities at national peripheries deploy the "art of neighbouring" and build new forms of solidarity and collaboration.

Working closely with different migrant groups at the China-Vietnam borderland, in Australia, Singapore, and the Philippines, Juan has written broadly on transnational student activism and expressions of nationalism, marriage migrants and the intimate geopolitics that underpin their mobility and family life, as well as skilled labour migrants and their understanding of flexibility and control.     

Her recent project "Casino Mobilities" investigated the Asian casino boom and casino-led labour migration in Southeast Asia since 2010. Her casino related work explores the impact of mega-casino development projects and the resulting speculative urbanism in Southeast Asia. Her analysis and critique can be read on Pacific Affairs and Environment and Planning A. Her article “The State of Fun” was nominated for the William L. Holland Prize by Pacific Affairs in 2017.

Juan’s new project investigates the relations between mobility and the gig economy in Asia. It aims to document the diverse and creative ways in which migrant youth find work and make a living in an increasingly competitive and precarious urban economy. Juan is interested to work with potential PhD students on this project.  

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Migration Mobilities Bristol

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