Bodies and Structures

Embodied mobilities

We can say more: The story of Ogura Nobu (and Chen Zhaopin, though he is even more silent/silenced than she), highlights the need to explore the material and discursive experiences of border crossing and mobility, and the contextualized histories of the bodies that move. For example, part of a deep map of this subject would have to extend to the materiality of the route, including the third-class passage on the ferry that carried Ogura Nobu and Chen Zhaopin to Shanghai (while more elite, or more carefree, passengers enjoyed NYK's posh amenities and the lifestyle they advertised on the upper deck),as well as the network of Chinese lodging houses, coastal steamers, and overland transport that conveyed migrants between Shanghai and Fuqing.It would also have to capture the careful preparation of stories, the altering of appearances (Ogura Nobu was hardly the only woman to try to pass as a Chinese for the journey), the tension and apprehension accompanying checkpoint interviews, and so on. Mobilities research must attend to factors such as ethnicity, gender, class, age, place of origin, household structure, and prior experiences and future expectations — not mention the contingent political conditions — under which such movement was undertaken. Moving bodies took shape as products of social processes (what Leslie Adelson calls embodiment, the “making and doing the work of bodies” and “becoming a body in social space”). 

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