Starting and finishing this book on Chinese women workers has taken me
on a long journey with many detours. In retrospect, the book would never
have been accomplished if I had not received consistent support from so
many people. It is, first of all, a dedication to the Chinese dagongmei whose
lives and struggles moved me and helped to weave together each and every
thread of this ethnographic study. I am especially grateful to Yu Qin who
assisted me in gaining access to the field site and in setting up the Shenzhen
Nanshan Women Workers Center immediately after my fieldwork in 1996.
Needless to say, it has been an immense challenge to create a home for the
working daughters and it would have been impossible without the generous
help of the dignified local people who deserve my greatest acknowledgment.
This book evolved from my doctoral dissertation, and I am most in-
debted to my supervisors and colleagues in the School of Oriental and
African Studies at the University of London. I would like to express my
special gratitude to Elisabeth Croll, who provided me with invaluable intel-
lectual insights and guidance. Her pioneering achievements in women stud-
ies in China and her firm belief in solid ethnography inspired and directed
me to the field in China. I am also very grateful to Nancy Lindisfarne, who
has been a constant source of critical and reflective ideas and who shared
many of my intellectual puzzles throughout the process of thinking and
writing. I would also like to thank Mark Hobart, Kevin Latham, Jos Gamble,
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