Anne-Christine Trémon

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2012/2013
discipline Anthropology
Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Lausanne

Research project

Globalization or localization? Diasporic Connexions and Native 
Reterritorialization in an Urbanized Village of Shenzhen, China.


My project’s initial purpose was to analyse lineage revitalization in relation to the globalization of China. My idea was to focus on the reconnections established by emigrant village communities in the Shenzhen area in Guangdong Province with descendants of migrants who left China prior to 1949 and are now located around the world. These reconnections have intensified since the “re-opening” of China in 1978, marked by the creation of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in 1980. Since then, the inhabitants of former emigrant villages in Shenzhen have rebuilt ancestral halls and strengthened connections to their relatives in the Chinese diaspora. 

Yet in the village where I have started doing fieldwork, that story already belongs to the past. This village was historically an almost single-lineage village; more than 90% of its inhabitants claim to descend from the same founding ancestor. The village of barely 3000 inhabitants in the late 1970s now has a population of around 60000 persons; from an emigrant village, it has been turned into an immigrant neighbourhood in a megacity of more than 10 millions. Moreover, the village has been recently administratively urbanized, becoming one of the numerous and typically Shenzhen-style ‘villages-in-the-city’ that remain visibly distinct.

Having reached an apotheosis in 2000 with the building of a monumental mausoleum around the founding ancestor’s tomb, with substantial financial contributions of the diaspora, diasporic ties seem to be loosening again. For more than a century, the villagers were the poor, peasant relatives of their rich overseas relatives: this relation has changed, as villagers are relying less than before on the financial contributions of the diaspora. My research project has therefore enlarged to include the transformations that have occurred in the village itself and their consequences on the relations with the diaspora. 

How do the former villagers, who now hold urban residence, still remain part of a village community? How does the lineage structure and the ancestor worship performed twice a year for the village’s founding ancestor contribute to this maintenance and what is the role of the diaspora in this respect? How has ‘autochtony’, or membership to the former village community, become such an important factor as a result of the transformations of the collective economy? Are kinship and diasporic connexions to Overseas relatives decreasing in importance because of this re-centering on the village community? The project’s goal is thus to study ‘from below’, through an ethnography of this former village, the transformations that occur in Shenzhen and that epitomize ‘Chinese globalization’.



Anne-Christine Trémon is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Lausanne. She holds a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales de Paris (EHESS).


Her research examines Chinese globalization and the Chinese diaspora in an anthropological and historical perspective. She has conducted fieldwork among the Chinese in French Polynesia for her doctoral thesis (2000-2005), has worked on heritage and museums in Taiwan (2005-2008), the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010, Chinese migrants and urban policies in Paris (2010-2011) and on Shenzhen since 2011.

Selected publications


‘Social rationality and scales of action: inter-ethnic relations in cockfighting and game-fishing, Raiatea, French Polynesia’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2012, pp.1-18. 


‘L’Etat au musée. Politiques muséales et patrimoniales dans le monde chinois’, in A. C. Trémon and B. Baptandier (eds), introduction to a special issue of Gradhiva, Revue d’anthropologie et d’histoire des arts, Chines, l’Etat au musée, no.16, 2012.


‘Diasporicité et problématique diasporique : réflexions à partir du cas chinois’, Tracés. Revue de Sciences humaines, vol.2, no.23, 2012, pp.131-150.


Chinois en Polynésie française. Immigration, métissage et multiethnicité, Éditions de la Société d’ethnologie, Nanterre, 2010.


‘Cosmopolitanization and localization. Ethnicity, class and citizenship among the Chinese in French Polynesia’, Anthropological theory, Thousand Oaks, CA & London, vol.9, no.1, 2009, pp.103-126.


‘Fils illégitimes, affiliations conflictuelles. Métissage et identité « demie » en Polynésie française’, L’Homme, Revue française d’anthropologie, vol.181, 2007, pp.75-100.


‘From ‘Voluntary’ to ‘Truly Voluntary’ Associations: The Structure of the Chinese Community in French Polynesia’, Journal of Chinese Overseas, Singapore & Hong Kong, vol.3, no.1, 2007, pp.1-33. 


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Linguistics
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science