Dr Beatriz Carrillo Garcia

Dr Beatriz Carrillo Garcia

A joint appointment of the China Studies Centre and the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Dr Beatriz Carrillo Garcia’s specialty is social development and change in contemporary China.

My research is concerned with the ways in which the state and various social actors work to build social safety nets. In particular, my focus is on the experiences of rural migrant workers in China’s small urban areas, as alternative sites for social inclusion.

As part of a research project on the emergence of local economic elites, I have documented the incursion of private entrepreneurs into the provision of health and education services that were previously provided only by the state. More recently I have been looking at the ways in which these economic elites are becoming involved in funding and promoting philanthropic and charity organisations. Through a major grant from the Australian government, this research will be expanded to China’s ethnic borderlands.

The process of policy formation is a complex one, nonetheless governments around the world are increasingly seeking advice from university researchers. Insights from our research on the ground can serve as important reference points for policy makers.

Our research is finding a wider audience through publications in various academic journals and books. My project on the social inclusion of rural migrant workers was published as a research monograph by Routledge. I have also edited two volumes which bring together the work of key researchers in the areas of welfare reform, labour and class politics in China, and contributed short pieces to media outlets. We also provide support for research networks as grant, thesis and manuscript examiners.

Our research collaborations span the world, including North America, the UK, and China, and influence stakeholders and policy makers. I have provided advice to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in regard to policy documents for the assessment of Chinese asylum seekers. I have presented my work at a forum organised by a local branch of the Mexican Ministry of the Economy (SEPROE Jalisco). More recently, I was approached by the UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Program and invited to take part in the upcoming China-ASEAN Forum on urbanisation. These opportunities to more directly access government and international organisations provide us with unique openings to maximise the impact of our work.

Using networks

Academic work and knowledge production is very much embedded in global networks. For my research I build on the networks I have from my native Mexico, with colleagues and friends in China, and with research collaborators in other parts of the world, as well with colleagues within various Australian universities. Even within the University of Sydney, the China Studies Centre seeks to bring together researchers from various departments and disciplines.

China Studies, as an area of study, has traditionally been an interdisciplinary field, which has thus been able to provide a range of perspectives on China. Such a holistic interpretation of China is even more crucial as the country emerges as a global power, in order to counteract more narrow views of this complex and diverse nation.

The Sydney advantage

I was attracted to come to the University of Sydney precisely because of its support for the China Studies Centre and for its commitment to strengthening its research activities and expertise on contemporary China. This has meant we have regular visits and keynotes by renowned China scholars from around the world. I am also particularly interested in the youth outreach work the centre is doing. I think an important role of the centre will be to build interest, knowledge and relationships between Australia and China’s youth.

Being a University-wide endeavour, the centre offers me the opportunity to get acquainted with researchers in other disciplines at China Studies specific forums, with whom I would have otherwise not come into contact. For example, I am currently working with colleagues in Public Health to organise a multidisciplinary workshop on the Challenges of Urbanisation in China: Emerging Health Issues and Healthcare Provision, which will bring together experts in public health, medicine, urban planning, and the sociology of health.

China studies has from the onset been a cross-disciplinary field. Over the last few decades academic work in this field has experienced a high degree of specialisation, one which achieved great breakthroughs in some areas, but which also isolated scholars in others. It is increasingly recognised that in a globalised world, interdisciplinary approaches are needed to interpret and understand complex social, cultural, economic and political processes.

Dr Beatriz Carrillo Garcia is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Within the China Studies Centre, she is Chair of the Education Committee, Member of the Executive Committee, and Convenor of the Social and Political Change Academic Group.