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Dr PUN Ngai

Dr PUN Ngai, Associate Professor in Social Science, was honored as the winner of the C. Wright Mills Award at an awards banquet on 11 August 2006 in Montreal Canada. Her honour was all the more precious as she became the first Asian winner of this prestigious award since its establishment in 1964.

Dr PUN's award-winning book for 2005 is titled "Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace." It was judged the best book by the Awards Committee that exemplifies the following characteristics:

  1. critically addresses an issue of contemporary public importance
  2. brings to the topic a fresh, imaginative perspective
  3. advances social science understanding of the topic
  4. displays a theoretically informed view and empirical orientation
  5. evinces quality in style of writing
  6. explicitly or implicitly contains implications for courses of action.

Dr PUN's book has been described as a "passionate, engaged ethnography". Her approach to scholarship is the antithesis of the detached academic. Moved by the plight of workers in a tragic factory fire that took the lives of scores of factory hands, she bravely became one of the Dagongmei, or female factory workers. For six months, she worked, ate and slept alongside her co-workers - members of a growing but ignored social underclass.

This self-inflicted baptism of fire yielded the most important social study on modern-day China. Dubbed "the factory of the world", China has become an economic powerhouse in the process. This first-person study powerfully tells the tales of those caught up in the trials and tribulations of factory life in contemporary China.

These are the young women who power China's economic miracle. They are the workers in this global factory which until now have been largely unrecognized and under-appreciated by all those who benefit from their labour. As one of the award criteria states, there is implicit in Dr PUN's book a call for social action. Her book opens up a world hitherto unstudied and unnoticed by the world. It becomes the voice of the voiceless in a teeming global factory that has brought prosperity to China and affordability to the world.


Related links: - Dr PUN Ngai
    - Division of Social Science
    - C. Wright Mills Award
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