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Dr. Roberta Zavoretti

Short Biography

Roberta was educated in Chinese Studies at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy) and in Social Anthropology at the University of London - SOAS (UK). After defending her PhD dissertation on class and internal migration in contemporary Mainland China, she continued to explore the mutual constitution and reproduction of different forms of social inequality, focusing on the links between class formation, gender roles and family politics in contemporary urban China. Her present interests include the production of value and values, mobility and inequality, relatedness and structures of feeling in the context of China’s state-led capitalism.

Thematic Interests and Regional Focus

Urban China, social inequalities (especially class and gender), value, production and reproduction, social theory.

Research Projects

Marriage and Class Mobility in Contemporary China (2010-2015, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle Saale).

An ethnographic inquiry into the limits of China’s 'rural to urban migrant' paradigm (2006-2010, Phd project, University of London-SOAS).

Courses and Seminars

Currently Taught Seminars

Kinship and Gender in Contemporary China

Anthropological Approaches to Mobility

Previously Taught Seminars

Care and Labour. Critical Perspectives on a Globalised Market
Affect, Economy and State Power in Post-Socialist Societies
Ethnographies of Gender in East and South East Asia
Precarity and 'the Good Life'
Labour and Value: a Critical Overview
Class, Ethnicity and Gender in Contemporary China
Social Theory

Publications (Selection)


2017. Rural Origins, City Lives. Place and Class in Contemporary China. University of Washington Press.

Edited Volume

2017. Beyond the Global Care Chain: Boundaries, Institutions and Ethics of Care, co-edited with Minh Nguyen, special issue of Journal of Ethics and Social Welfare, Volume 11 Issue 3 (September).

Articles and book chapters

In press. ‘Rural to Urban Migration in Contemporary China’ chapter in Latham, Kevin (ed.) Handbook of Chinese Society, Routledge.
2018. ‘Comme trouver son Mr. Right’ in Capdeville, Catherine and Ortis, Delphine (eds.) Les institutions de l’amour: cour, amour, mariage. Enquêtes anthropologiques en Asie et dans l’océan Indien, Presses de l’Inalco, Paris.

2017 (with Minh Nguyen an Joan Tronto). 'Beyond the Global Care Chain. Boundaries, Institutions and Ethics of Care' in Journal of Ethics and Social Welfare, Volume 11 Issue 3 (September).

2017. 'Get Yourself an Insurance! Negotiating Family and Intergenerational Care in post-Mao Urban China'. In Nguyen, Minh and Roberta Zavoretti (eds.) Beyond the Global Care Chain. Boundaries, Institutions and Ethics of Care. Journal of Ethics and Social Welfare, Volume 11 Issue 3 (September).

2016. 'Being the Right Woman for Mr Right. Marriage and Household Politics in Present-day Nanjing (PRC)' in Harrell, Stevan and Santos, Goncalo (eds.) Transforming Patriarchy. Chinese Families in the Twenty-First Century. University of Washington Press.

2016. 'Is It Better to Cry on a BMW or to Laugh on a Bicycle? Marriage, 'Financial Performance Anxiety' and the Production of Class in Nanjing (PRC)' in Donner, Henrike and Santos, Gonçalo (eds.) Love, Marriage, and Intimate Citizenship in Contemporary China and India, Modern Asian Studies. Special Issue 04, Volume  50.

2014. 'My Generation Had It All Easy: Accounts of Anxiety and Social Order in Post-Mao Nanjing', Endres Kirsten W. and Six-Hohenbalken Maria (eds.) special section on Risks, Ruptures and Uncertainties: Dealing with Crisis in Asia’s Emerging Economies. Cambridge Anthropology. Volume 33, issue 2.


2017. 'Making Class and Place in Contemporary China' Made in China v. 2, no. 1. 

2013. 'Be my Valentine: Bouquets, Marriage and Middle Class Hegemony in Urban China' MPI Working Paper Series.