Rui Jie Peng smilesI study: The experiences of ethnic minority people in China as they participate in its globalizing market economy and engage with the state’s development priorities. My current project is an ethnography of marginalized ethnic-minority Qiang women in Sichuan Province’s Himalayan highlands. I work mostly with mothers and grandmothers in their 40s-60s who live and work in highland Qiang villages while their adult family members migrate to cities to find work in a precarious labor market. While most people believe that migrant workers send money ‘back’ to support rural homes, I focus on the so-called ‘left behind’ mothers and grandmothers I worked with in my fieldwork. Unlike the stereotype, my work shows that they are not passive recipients of money; instead, these older Qiang women take on demanding labor tasks to sustain their family economy, communities, and an ever-expanding migrant labor force.

Why?I was raised in a Qiang minority community in the Eastern Tibetan highlands. I have firsthand experience with how economic changes and the state’s development programs influence ethnic communities’ livelihoods and opportunities. I use my lived experiences to inform my research. My study aims to understand how gender, ethnicity, and class interact with social processes such as migration, development, and globalization to create social inequalities. In my future work, I seek to better understand and articulate the experiences of women and ethnic/racial minorities at the margins in their quest for equitable, inclusive participation in development initiatives in China and beyond.

This fall I’m teaching: “A&S 103: Introduction to Sociology and A&S 200: Research Methods and Design in Social Sciences”

What students can expect from me:Students can expect me to maintain an inclusive and equitable learning environment where students from diverse backgrounds can participate, learn, and grow together. I also will engage and challenge them in reading, discussing, and learning from critical, intersectional, and historically informed analyses of the social world. We will embark on a journey to understand and appreciate our own heritage and recognize how we can leverage our lived experiences to contribute to mutual learning and social justice.”

I’m excited to be here because: “I am thrilled to be part of a close-knit community that has already been very welcoming since I arrived. I am excited to be in a college that values scholarship and teaching in their multiple forms and expressions. I love engaging with students to spark their curiosity and support their enthusiasm for learning, exploring, and taking action for positive social change. I have already learned about student-led initiatives to address social justice issues on campus. I look forward to closely working with students in the classroom and on research projects.”

Getting to know me:I enjoy rock climbing. You might find me climbing at the gym or elsewhere outdoors.”

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