Siyuan Yin: On the intersectional approach to researching global migration

November 18, 2019

We are excited to welcome our new faculty member Dr. Siyuan Yin, who is joining the SFU School of Communication as an assistant professor in the area of communication and migration. Yin completed her PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research explores timely issues of migration and globalization, specifically how media, culture, and technologies shape the lives of underprivileged and marginalized groups. 


The two prominent themes across Yin’s research are inequality and resistance. Growing up in an urban, middle-class family in reforming China, Siyuan has observed and experienced how people’s lives are greatly influenced by their class, gender, sexuality, and rural/urban identity. 


In her work, Yin focuses on examining unequal power structures that lead to labor exploitation in the capitalist global production, the uneven distribution of basic resources, including education, medical care, and housing, and discrimination against minorities in different political, economic and socio-cultural contexts. The interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches enable Yin to explore power relations in the complex and ever-changing social realities. 


Thanks to the years of working with people from different nations and diverse social-economic and cultural backgrounds, Siyuan believes that forming solidarity to make a better world is imaginable, possible and feasible. She stays hopeful about the dynamic possibilities for creating social change, while paying close attention to the politics and limitations of any activist and resistant actions.  


Dr. Yin’s past research projects have discussed how mainstream media and popular culture reinforce the stereotype and marginalization of disadvantaged groups. One of the subjects of her case studies are rural-to-urban migrant workers in China. Yin explored how local NGOs and advocacy groups resort to various forms of media and cultural production to advocate equality and justice. 


Yin’s current research projects look at how transnational and national migrant workers navigate their lives in the digital age, with a particular emphasis on domestic workers. She hopes that her research will contribute to the existing scholarship and understanding of migration, reproductive labor, and the relation between digital media and the underprivileged.  


Book Recommendation from Siyuan Yin 

“I would recommend one of my favorite readings, Pierre Bourdieu’s “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste”, which is based on empirical research on French society in the mid 20th century yet the argument is still relevant to our contemporary period in many parts of the world. Bourdieu offers a sharp theoretical account to reveal how social reproduction of cultural inequalities is enacted through multiple institutions in everyday lives, ranging from the judgement of the way people dress, the music they listen to, to the school they attend. It is an inspiring reminder that hegemony can also be formed through culture.”