AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 518

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Session 518: Rethinking Citizenship in Asia: Comparative Perspectives on Recent Trends II. Inequality and Social Citizenship - Part II

Organizer and Chair: Sophia Woodman, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Discussant: Bryan S. Turner, City University of New York, USA

Across Asia, relationships between state and citizen have been changing in response to phenomena such as state restructuring, economic competition, “reform” of welfare systems and increasing transnational flows of people, ideas and things. This panel will contribute theoretical and substantive insights to the interdisciplinary literature on citizenship through comparisons of contemporary manifestations of changing citizenship regimes across Asia. One of two panels on this overall theme, this section focuses on the relationship between inequality and citizenship, a central concern of this literature. One of the four case study papers considers whether new policies addressing the growing gap between rich and poor are redressing the historical neglect of social citizenship in India. Another explores how the new urban spaces occupied by migrants from Bangladesh and Burma in Pakistan challenge the coherence of dominant narratives of citizenship, nation and neo-liberal development. A third paper looks at the effects of democratization on the developmental state in Taiwan and the directions in which this experience is taking its emerging welfare regime. The fourth case study analyzes the gendered division of labor implicit in China’s emerging welfare regime, with women filling the gaps between needs and minimal state provision in urban and rural areas. Each presenter will have 10 minutes to present their case study, and five minutes to draw out comparative implications from the other papers on this and the companion panel for their own case. The discussant will comment on these findings and point out the theoretical implications.

Citizenship, Surveillance & Sovereignty: Managing Burmese & Bangladeshi Migrants in Transnational Pakistani Spaces
Nausheen H. Anwar, Institute of Business Administration, Pakistan

Conceptualizing the forging of citizenship in post-colonial South Asia as a process enmeshed in exclusionary practices and the re-ordering of territories and bodies is hardly novel. However, limited attention has been paid to charting the post September 11th realignments between state sovereignty, economic norms and new modes of citizenship in South Asia. Pakistan’s largest metropolis, Karachi, provides an especially interesting vantage point from which to explore how citizenship claims are unfolding at the local scale, how migrant populations are being regulated, and how state sovereignty is being produced. Through an examination of discourses and practices of exclusion and belonging centered on Bangladeshi and Burmese-Rohingya migrants, I propose some arguments regarding citizenship and sovereignty within Pakistan, a nation-state deeply enmeshed in neoliberal reform and marked by the violent predations of the ‘war on terror’. Three questions buttress my arguments/discussion: (1) What is the materiality of citizenship or the technologies through which exclusion/inclusion is sustained? (2) How do technologies of discipline regulate migrant mobility and reshape their experiences of citizenship? (3) What are the counter-measures to these new forms of subjectivity/citizenship?

Globalization and Social Citizenship: Evidence from India
Anil M. Varughese, University of Toronto, Canada

This paper considers whether rapid economic ascent may be reinforcing or transforming longstanding neglect of social citizenship in India’s public policy. Much of the scholarly attention on India’s recent economic growth has sidestepped questions of distributive justice and the larger implications of a non-inclusive accumulation process for citizenship. This paper tackles this gap from the vantage point of the rural poor by examining recent governance reforms such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGA). Based on recent evidence from several different Indian states on the implementation of NREGA and other such reforms, the paper addresses the following questions: Do these reforms represent fresh thinking on citizenship, expanding its scope beyond civil and political equality to a basic set of rights and entitlements in the social realm? Alternatively, are they merely mechanisms to legitimize a lopsided growth process and reproduce conditions of exclusion and dispossession?

Sacrificing for the State: Gendered Citizenship and China’s Emerging Welfare Regime(s)
Sophia Woodman, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

In the wake of the restructuring of state owned industry in the urban areas and the dissolution of the communes in the countryside, a specialized sphere of welfare work distinct from emergency relief has been gradually emerging in China. Central to this is the concept of the “guarantee” which fixes welfare entitlements within a specific local community. This localized, personalized welfare regime is based on a highly gendered division of labor, constituting women as both key actors in and beneficiaries of a feminized sphere of the social. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in two urban residents committees and two rural villager committees in Tianjin Municipality, this paper analyzes and compares the types of welfare benefits and provision of care in the four cases. Employing analytical categories from the feminist and mainstream literature on welfare regimes, it looks at the extent of commodification/decommodification and familialization/defamilialization in the care of children, the chronically ill and the frail elderly, as well as in benefits for the unemployed, people with disabilities, older people without pensions and single parents. Adding a further spatial dimension to these categories, it considers the financial, regulatory and administrative contribution of the national and various levels of the local to welfare provision. This analysis reveals how gendered norms and divisions of labor—naturalized by the “invisible hand” of the market—are shaping the contours of social citizenship in this welfare regime-in-formation. Women’s disadvantaged labor market status makes their invisible labor available to make up for the state’s minimal provision of welfare.