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ItemModest expectations: masculinity, marriage, and the good life in urban ChinaGosper, Sarah Maree ( 2022)There is a sense that there is a crisis unfolding in China. Marriage rates are dropping, divorce rates are rising, the birth rate is in decline, and a new population of rural ‘bachelors’ and urban ‘leftover women’ has surfaced. This new culture of singlehood is perceived as a ‘crisis of marriage’, precipitating a moral panic over how to address a problem that is often described by the state as a threat to social stability and order, as well as the advancement of the nation. This thesis explores the intersection of these so-called ‘crises’ facing Chinese society: a crisis of marriage, a crisis of masculinity, and a crisis of mobility. Since China’s ‘opening up and reform’ in 1978, extraordinary social, economic, and political change have occurred. Gender and sexual relations have also undergone significant transformation, subsequently contributing to this ‘marriage crisis’ in China today. How single rural men living in the city respond to this marriage crisis is a core concern of this thesis. In the gendered aspects of this crisis and the associated moral panic, single rural men have become a flash point in China for discussions about marriage, social organisation, the rural–urban divide, gender relations, class, and mobility. The demise of the rural economy and the rapid transformation of the urban economy have produced significant changes in gender roles and institutions in contemporary China. This thesis focuses on the impact of these socio-economic shifts on rural men who migrate to cities. Rural to urban migration has a long and well-documented history in China. The most recent wave of migration has been accompanied by changes in the nature of work and social organisation that have exacerbated the ‘marriage crisis’ particularly for rural men in urban settings. For rural men living in urban China, marriage represents a modest aspiration for a good life, expressed through the concept guo rizi (passing the days). The desire to marry and have children is however constrained by rural men’s experiences in the city. Their occupations, lack of social networks, new forms of dating and matchmaking and increasingly unattainable ‘bride-price’ demands, work together to undermine their desirability as potential husbands and fathers and entrench inequalities of wealth and power between rural and urban men. The ways rural men struggle with, negotiate, and imagine their futures is the subject of this thesis. I argue that the increasing socio-economic precarity of rural men and their largely unrealised desires to marry and have children demonstrate a fundamental reconfiguration of Chinese masculinity and mobility in urban China today and the social impact on central Chinese institutions. This thesis explores the lives of migrant delivery drivers (kuaidi and waimai) and tertiary-educated professionals who have migrated from the countryside to the city. In this thesis, I endeavour to make these men visible by investigating how they navigate the urban marriage market and avoid becoming ‘leftover’. What I have found is that their shared struggles in the marriage market and efforts to fulfill the ideals of manhood are indicative of how rurality continues to be experienced as an inhibiting factor for single rural men in Chinese cities, regardless of their education, income, or material assets. The nature of these men’s lives led me to question how such men are affected by changing social, cultural, and economic structures within the marriage market and the broader context of crisis that currently pervades Chinese society.
ItemThe Life of Human Rights: An Everyday Approach to Understanding Human Rights in an Australian Parliamentary Enquiry on the Involuntary Sterilisation of People with DisabilitiesHernandez Ruiz, Maria Paula ( 2022)This research questions how ‘human rights’ are used in a parliamentary inquiry on the coercive or involuntary sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia. Throughout three chapters, the thesis breaks down ‘human rights’ as a concept and as a practical approach in development programming. Chapter two delves into the multiple understandings of rights in the development literature and incorporates contributions from legal anthropology and the field of the social studies of science and technology to understand human rights in the development context. Chapter three proposes an “ethnography in the archives” as a methodological design that pushes disciplinary boundaries to understand the value of documents and arguments in how different stakeholders inside and outside of the development field engage with issues such as the coercive sterilisation of people with disabilities. Finally, chapter four offers an analysis derived from 82 documents presented in the parliamentary inquiry in Australia. This chapter shows this thesis’s main argument: That human rights differ from what this research calls ‘everyday rights’, which are the claims articulated by people drawing upon their lived experiences rather than human rights treaties or arguments. This argument sheds light on how development practice often faces a gap between what the stated outcomes are in terms of Human Rights-Based Approaches and the practical realities of rights claims.
ItemA case of gender governance: the family court of Australia’s regulation of young people’s gender affirmationMitchell, Matthew John ( 2020)Legal institutions govern gender: they shape and regulate how their subjects can be gendered and, in doing so, control how gender can manifest. This thesis interrogates how the Family Court of Australia governed gender through its regulation of young people’s gender-affirming hormone use. Between 2004-2017, in Australia, people younger than eighteen needed to obtain authorisation from the Family Court before they could use hormones manually—that is, before they could use hormones other than those that their bodies produced automatically—to affirm their gender. By analysing the 76 “reasons for judgment” that judges published in response to applications for this authorisation, this thesis explicates how the Court judged the legitimacy of its subjects’ manual hormone use. My analysis finds that the Court’s judgments were structured by three primary categories of discourse: discourses on the ontology of gender, the epistemology of gender, and the teleology of manual hormone use. Upon interrogating each discourse in turn, I argue that the Court’s judgments tethered the legitimacy of its subjects’ manual hormone use to the promise that this would help them to become normatively gendered. In this way, the Court’s regulation worked to ensure that subjects could only use hormones manually to avert, rather than affirm, manifestations of queerness. By launching a critique of the Court’s discourses on ontology, epistemology, and teleology and the mechanism of gender governance that they enacted, this thesis contributes to the broader scholarly project of documenting and challenging the means through which States curb the possibilities for queer modes of life.
ItemWomen Politicians, Gender, Nation, and Democratisation: A Political Ethnography of Serbia and KosovoSubotic, Gordana ( 2020)This is an ethnography of women politicians in the ‘politically sensitive environments’ (Browne and McBride, 2015, p. 34) of Serbia and Kosovo/a. It investigates the ways in which women imagined, constructed, and politicised national and gender identities as they actively engaged with politics in the context of the as yet understudied process of democratisation. This research highlights a profound paradox. In navigating between national and gender identities and everyday work in the nationalist contexts of Serbia and Kosovo/a, women politicians attained a certain degree of agency and emancipation. Despite the ongoing context of democratisation, however, the discourse remained fundamentally patriarchal and, therefore, subordinating for women. Even as they centred themselves in the present democratic political context, women continued to draw on the primordial and ancient elements of their ethnies/nations in the form of blood, roots, myths, symbols, and rituals as a means of politicising their own positions. In order to prove their invaluable contributions to their ethnies/nations, women politicised traditional gender roles and narratives. I argue that the lack of recognition and the continued undervaluing of women’s contributions have influenced the politicisation of gender and national identities in the process of democratisation and steered women towards the hierarchical organisation of ethnie over gender identity. Women politicians predominantly politicised their biological roles as reproducers, mothers, sisters, educators, and contributors to the ethnie in pursuit of greater gender equality with their men. The ongoing democratisation process in the Western Balkans opened space for greater political participation of women. It did not, however, automatically make this political space safe. Traditional gender and ethnie roles as well as patriarchal narratives still dominated political space and affected women’s political strategies. For these reasons, women are constantly required to negotiate between different ethnie and gender demands in order to survive in politics.