[URBANTH-L]CFP: The Changing Asian Family as a Site of (State) Politics

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Sat Sep 23 00:09:18 EDT 2006

The Changing Asian Family as a Site of (State) Politics
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Deadline: October 1, 2006

The conference aims to bring together scholars of Asia whose work
interrogates the state-family relationship. We invite scholars to reflect on
the complex political processes that produce "the Asian family" and to
analyse the consequences of these processes for state and society.

The rapidly changing face of Asia is perhaps most sharply represented in the
changing composition, functions, and meanings of its families. Scholarship
on the Asian family has highlighted the myriad ways in which changes in the
organization of economic lives, demographic trends, social mobility
opportunities, migration patterns and global cultural influences have
affected the shape, form, and significance of "the family" in people's
lives. Scholars have long acknowledged the family as an important site of
state action within the context of these changes. The tendency remains,
however, to conceptualize the family and the state as distinct entities-with
the state impacting on the family-rather than formed in relation to each
other. In this framework, the "public" state steps in to "interfere" with
the "private" family only on specific "problems." In this way, despite the
richness of this scholarship, studies of the family continue to stand
somewhat outside larger debates about political systems and state-society
relations. Contemporary Asian state actors also contribute to perpetuating a
view of "the Asian family" as private and primordial, and hence, its own
actions as ameliorative and apolitical.

This conference focuses on the relational formation of state and family by
highlighting the complex and sometimes contradictory power struggles and
negotiations that render possible or impossible particular definitions of
the contemporary Asian family, as well as the consequences of these
processes on larger questions of political culture and state-society
relationships. We aim to bring together scholars of the region whose
research investigates the politics of state-family relations through these
questions: How are familial forms produced-what are the political processes
that produce specific definitions of "family members," "family relations,"
and "familial responsibilities and rights"? On the other hand, what are the
consequences of these political processes-on individuals, on civil society,
on the state's own authority, and more broadly, on the texture and tone of
power relations in society?
Key themes that follow:

State definitions of "the family": rhetoric and practice; variations across
time and space;

"The family" as site of mobilization, movements, contestations and/or
cooperation among different actors, vis-à-vis the state. These interactions
may include different government agents, non-governmental organizations, and
individuals in both national and transnational contexts, and contestations
may be based around class, ethnic, gender, and other group interests and

The reach of the state and its limits in relation to its definitions of
meanings, forms, and functions of family;

The (re)production of inequality and equality through interactions between
state and family;

The (re)production of political culture and political subjectivity as a
result of state and family interactions: the generation of interests,
identities, and legitimate and illegitimate political behaviour;

"Powerful" families-such as families of political elites and royal
families-and their roles in shaping the definition of family in specific
contexts, and in shaping state and family relations;

The changing family as a site where there is rethinking of the state and
civil society in the era of rapid global change.  We invite historians,
sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and other social
scientists working on Asia to submit paper proposals.
We hope to select from the conference papers articles for one to two special
journal issues.

Please submit paper abstracts (maximum 300 words), by 1st October 2006 to
Alyson Rozells. Decisions will be made by the beginning of November.
Complete papers are due 15th March 2007. Speakers will be provided
with accommodation, and partial reimbursement for air-travel may be 

Alyson Rozells
Asia Research Institute
National University of Singapore
Shaw Foundation Building,
Block AS7, Level 4, 5 Arts Link,
Singapore 117570
Tel: (65)6516 8787
Fax: (65)6779 1428

Email: ariaar at nus.edu.sg
Visit the website at

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