Anthropological Quarterly is a publication of

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   Institute for Ethnographic Research

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Volume 90, #3 • Summer 2017




Returning to No Home: Educational Remigration and Displacement in
Rural China

Minhua Ling, Chinese University of Hong Kong

ABSTRACT—This article examines the often-neglected reverse movements of second-generation rural to urban migrant youth to their registered places of origin in rural China for educational purposes. China requires students to take their standardized enrollment tests for senior high school and university at the same location where their household is registered. Migrant youth who have grown up in their parents’ adopted cities and aspire for higher education have to return to their registered hometowns to prepare for the tests. This article rejects the binary origin and destination model of migration and criticizes the naturalizing discourse that assumes an unproblematic linkage between home and return. It offers a critical rethinking of migrant youth’s remigration as a process of both emplacement and displacement under structural rural–urban inequalities in late-socialism. By analyzing the experiences and subjectivities of these migrant students adapting to the rural schooling system, the article demonstrates how institutional discrimination, regional disparities, and sociocultural differences cause these often taken-for-granted “home” journeys to be fraught with contradictions and frustrations. The dilemma of migrant students reveals the politics of mobility in everyday practice, in which return functions as a mode of governance that regulates mobility through mobility and perpetuates structural inequalities. [Keywords: Return, displacement, mobility, identity, education, China, migrant student, governance]


Forced Childlessness and Ruptured Personhood: The Politics of Motherhood
for Central African Refugee Women Resettled in Australia

Georgina Ramsay, University of Newcastle, Australia

ABSTRACT—This article explores the phenomenon of forced childlessness as a result of state interventions for child protection, with a focus on the ways in which such practices impact subjective experiences of motherhood. I draw on the case of an intervention by the child protection system in Australia, in which an African woman experienced the forced removal of her children after being resettled as a refugee. I analyze this experience not as the result of parental deficiency but as the outcome of a disciplining imperative implied in the operations of the child welfare system, and through which resettled refugees are governed as either “deserving” or “undeserving” of civic belonging. In the case study, the intervention of forced child removal results in an experience of what I term “ruptured” personhood: whereby intersections and contestations of motherhood as, concurrently, a social role, legal category, and affective experience, produce a situation in which a woman lives a paradoxical state of existence that she herself describes as being “dead.” The case study compels a broader problematization of refugee resettlement and motherhood as domains in which contemporary forms of biopolitics are constituted and played out. [Keywords: Australia, biopolitics, child protection, motherhood, personhood, refugee resettlement, citizenship]


Among a Hundred Good Virtues, Filial Piety is the First: Contemporary Moral Discourses on Filial Piety in Urban China

Yuezhu Sun, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

ABSTRACT—The meanings of filial piety, the moral virtue that defines a hierarchical parent–child relationship, have undergone drastic transformations throughout Chinese history. This article investigates the contemporary meaning of filial piety from the perspective of urban Chinese adults who were born under the One-Child Policy. Based on ethnographic interviews, this article argues that filial piety has transformed into a family ethic that is based on egalitarian inter-generational relationship and intimate parent-child bonding. Borrowing Giddens and other scholars’ concept of authenticity, this article describes the emergence of a new moral ideal in contemporary urban China that gives emphasis to the expression of the self and private feelings. [Keywords: Filial piety, family ethics, One-Child Policy, parent–child relationship, morality, authenticity, China]


Visions Of Care: Medicalization and Public Patienthood In Sao Paulo, Brazil

Naomi Zucker  | Princeton University

ABSTRACT—Encompassing a range of critiques, from new regimes of governmentality and biopolitical control to the iatrogenic effects of scientific medicine’s incursion into everyday life to the normative power of medicine, medicalization has become a central concept in anthropology and the critical social sciences. Drawing on three months of fieldwork at a primary care clinic in São Paulo, Brazil, I explore how and to what effect a group of health professionals have taken up this concept as part of their own critical projects. Founded and run by a group of sanitaristas or “public health doctors” working at the intersection of social science, medicine, and philosophy, the clinic is intentionally structured around an ambitious vision of comprehensive, “humanized,” antimedicalizing healthcare. Attending to how medicalization is deployed in the clinic offers an entry point into the complex entanglements of judgment, discipline, citizenship, and care as they combine, refract, and reinforce or contradict each other in particular encounters between patients and providers. As healthcare providers inadvertently reproduce the very forms of discipline they seek to resist, we are able to more readily apprehend the kinds of patienthood being imagined and assumed at the clinic, and to explore how medicalization functions as both an embodiment of vision and an instantiation of its limits. [Keywords: Medicalization, care, discipline, patienthood, collective health, primary care, SUS, Brazil]


Volume 90, #3

Summer 2017

Obituaries Without Biographies: Death and Healthcare in Roma Camps in Rome

by Lorenzo Alunni