Cecilia Nathansen Milwertz

Cecilia Nathansen Milwertz

Associate professor, Emeritus, !!Emeritus

Member of:

    Research group:


    The interconnections of Chinese workers – global consumers.

    With Bu Wei (Institute of Journalism and Communication, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Liu Jun (Institute of media, Cogntion and Communicatuion, Uiversity of Copenhagen), Michala Hvidt Breengaard (Institute of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Bo Ærenlund Sørensen (Oxford University and Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen)


    The Construction of Non-government Initiated Gender and Development Organizations in the People’s Republic of China

    With Wang Fengxian (Institute of Sociology, Beijing Academy of Social Sciences)


    Revisiting Gender: Reflections on the Research Process'

    Led by Rebecca Elmhirst (Brighton University), Philippe Doneys (Asian Institute fo Technology) and Raghild Lund (NTNU Norwegian University of Technology)


    Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network



    Gendering Asia Network







    Primary fields of research

    Cecilia Milwertz works as senior researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. With communication studies scholar Professor Bu Wei from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences she is developing a research project on linkages and inseparabilities between workers in the PRC and consumers in urban China as well as in the Nordic countries. Together with philosopher/sociologist Wang Fengxian, the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences she has for many years been, and is still, doing research on non-governmental organizing in the PRC.

    Her more than twenty years of research on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has included a study of the population control policy as viewed from the perspective of one-child mothers, work on the first bottom up women’s organizations in Beijing and on non-governmental gender and development organizing in three PRC provinces. She applies a hybrid and always inductive approach in her research projects based on a humanities and social sciences educational background in China studies and cultural sociology and a lot of borrowing and inspiration from anthropology, gender studies and other fields.

    Cecilia Milwertz is editor of the Gendering Asia Book Series published by NIAS Press https://www.niaspress.dk/books/series/gendering-asia. She heads the Gendering Asia Network http://genderingasia.net/, and is coordinator of the Sino-Nordic Gender Studies Network.

    Current research

    Cecilia Milwertz is involved in two research projects:


    Chinese Workers - Global Consumers

    Dr Cecilia Milwertz, senior researcher, NIAS 
    Professor Bu Wei, the Institute of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

    Production and consumption are the engine of today’s global economy. Many Nordic companies have now moved their production to the People’s Republic of China, where labour is cheap. However, both these companies and the Chinese state  are increasingly being held responsible for ensuring acceptable working conditions for the millions of peasant workers who have left rural China to work in urban factories. Similarly, Nordic states are being held responsible by consumers for ethical public procurement. This project therefore focuses on perceptions of the links between producers and consumers.

    This project aims to understand relations between workers in the PRC and consumers in both the Nordic countries and China by viewing workers and consumers as related to each other through consumer products. It asks how consumers conceive of this relationship and their responsibility for the well-being of workers in the PRC. Do they leave responsibility to states and companies or do they see themselves as individuals and groups that have a role to play?

    The main questions we ask include: What awareness exists among consumers in the Nordic countries and China of how their lives are linked to those of Chinese factory workers? How are perceptions of the links between producers and consumers related to dominant global consumption discourses or to the alternatives that are being promoted to ensure global survival? Ultimately, the research asks how perceptions may shape consumer behaviour in ways that either promote or obstruct social change and a reduction in exploitative relations?

    This project will enhance understanding of individual and collective consumer behaviour and this is of relevance for Nordic policy and practice. However, the overarching aim is to contribute to ongoing debate about our shared responsibility for environmental sustainability and social equality.  

    Participants: Research groups are being established in Denmark and China, while the intention is to expand the project to include research groups in all five Nordic countries.

    Funding: In 2015 applications for research funding will be submitted to the Danish Research Council and to the EU.


    Creating Non-government Initiated Organizing in the People’s Republic of China – a study of three gender and development organizations

    Cecilia Milwertz, senior researcher, NIAS 
    Wang Fengxian, Institute of Sociology, Beijing Academy of Social Sciences

    This is a study of the living and changing phenomenon of organizing from below to address gender and development issues in the People’s Republic of China during the approximately ten-year period from the mid-1990s to 2006. We are concerned with relations between the social entrepreneurs, foreign development aid organizations and domestic party-state institutions involved in initiating and developing NGOs. Our main questions are:  How have knowledge and practices relating to both form and content of organizing to address social issues been created through processes of intra-action between social entrepreneurs and people from foreign donor organizations and domestic party-state institutions? How have knowledge and practices that have developed within the framework of the People’s Republic of China met up with knowledge and practices from Western development aid organizations.

    This project is part of the larger Norwegian-Asian project Re-visiting Gender in Development: Complex Inequalities in a Changing Asia.

    Project coordinator: Professor Ragnhild Lund, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Geography/NTNU Social Research.

    Funding: The Research Council of Norway
    Timeframe: 2011-2014 (funded), 2015 (non-funded)

    ID: 4132