the intimacy of state power

the intimacy of state power - SARA L FRIEDMAN Indiana...

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Unformatted text preview: SARA L. FRIEDMAN Indiana University The intimacy of state power: Marriage, liberation, and socialist subjects in southeastern China A B S T R A C T Marriage is a powerful institution in which state regulation and sexual normalization converge to link personal desires with state goals. In socialist China, marital reforms have been part of the regime’s efforts to cultivate liberated socialist subjects. I focus on a coastal region known for its distinctive marriage customs, arguing that the development of socialist state power there was premised on the forging of female subjects committed to new ideals of conjugal intimacy. Although these ideals were introduced in the high socialist Maoist era, they were only realized in the current post-Mao era, with its coupling of market reforms and societal openness with population control policies. This outcome suggests that different configurations of state and economy have had different capacities to define subjectivities at once intimate and political. Even when state actors succeed in shaping their citizens’ intimate desires and relationships, they do not necessarily produce political subjects committed to the state’s original goats. [marriage, intimacy, state power, market reforms, women, subjectivity, China] s..— In the modern era, marriage has become the central legitimating institution by which the state regulates and permeates people's most intimate lives. —Michael Warner, 1999 arriage, Michael Warner (1999) asserts in his critique of gay marriage advocacy in the contemporary United States, is anything but neutral or benign, a simple choice or right. Instead, he contends, marriage is an institution in which state regulation and sexual normalization converge to link personal desires with state goals. In this article, I examine a similar dialectic of state regulation and intimate attachment in eastern Hui’an County, a coastal region of southeastern China, where women's reluctance to live or have sex with their husbands after marriage has provoked repeated state reform campaigns since the establishment of China’s socialist regime in 1949. My goals in analyzing this relationship between state power and intimate life are twofold: one, to show how the development of socialist rule in eastern Hui’an coupled the cultivation of new political subjects with dramatic changes in women’s conjugal experiences and desires; and two, to probe the limits of that state project and its unintended consequences. Studies of the state have turned in recent years to the relationship between state power and subject formation. Influenced‘both by a Grams- cian focus on class power and hegemony and by the Foucauldian concept of “governmentality,” this approach traces the emergence of a distinctly modern form of state power that works through creating and normalizing citizen-subjects who ultimately come to govern themselves (Hansen and Stepputat 2001; see also Foucault 1983, 1991). By “denaturalizing” state power (Hansen and Stepputat 2001), this body of work moves beyond an understanding of the state as a coherent, unified entity or agent that exists above society, dictating its every move (Abrams 1988; Li 1999; Mitchell 1991). Instead, as Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayer astutely argue in their study of English state formation, “The enormous power of ‘the State’ is not only external and objective; it is in equal part internal and subjective, it AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST, Vol. 32, N0. 2, pp. 312—327, ISSN 0094-0496, electronic ISSN 1548-1425. © 2005 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Rights and Permissions website, www.ucpress.edu/journals/ rightshtm. works through us. It works above all through the myriad ways it collectively and individually (mis)represents us and variously ‘encourages’, cajoles, and in the final analysis forces us to (mis)represent ourselves" (19852180). It is precisely these “internal and subjective" dimen- sions of state power that constitute the focus of this article. The development of socialist rule in eastern Hui’an pro- ceeded in part through “cajoling” individuals into identi- fying with and reproducing specific subject positions. Unlike the more generic Foucauldian formulation of gov- ernable subjects, these subject positions were overtly gen- dered precisely because it was women who were seen to bear the burden of the region’s cultural difference and, hence, were deemed most in need of socialist liberation. This particular formulation of female liberation was based on perceived linkages between women’s distinctive mari- tal practices and their “backward” political subjectivity, heavy labor burdens, and tragic propensity to take their own lives.1 Hui’an women were to be liberated from the “feudal” familial, economic, and political forces that had subjugated them in the past, and they were to enact their newly liberated status by displaying properly open and advanced modes of thought and practice. Radical trans- formations in women’s intimate relationships, their con- jugal relations in particular, were to constitute one of the major signs of female liberation in the region. In other words, producing eastern Hui'an women as liberated so- cialist subjects required state actors to redefine the very form and significance of conjugal intimacy itself. The intimacy of state power Intimacy is often viewed as an acknowledgment of hu- manity through the mutual recognition it generates be— tween two individuals engaged in intense personal relations (Benjamin 1988; see also Giddens 1992).2 Beyond this level of intersubjective engagement, however, intimate relations also require a broader context of recognition— one defined by such social and political entities as the community, the courts, or the nation-state. A recent body of scholarship has shown how even liberal, multicultural societies frequently refuse to recognize the intimate choices of certain disempowered groups (such as women and minorities) and in doing so deny them the very hu- manity that intimacy acknowledges (Berlant 1997, 1998; Grayson 1998; Povinelli 2002; Wiegman 2002). This ap- proach sees intimacy as producing the affective ties that incorporate (or fail to incorporate) individuals and groups into a larger chain of national inclusion; as Lauren Berlant suggestively notes, intimacy “poses a question of scale that links the instability of individual lives to the trajectories of the collective" (1998:283). The ability to have one’s intimate ties (and, thus, humanity) acknowledged by a larger collectivity is clearly The intimacy of state power I American Ethnologist a contested issue in the modern world, for intimate rela- tionships are distributed unevenly across social landscapes already marked by national and postcolonial hierarchies that deny intimacy to some groups while expecting it from others (Povinelli 2002). State efforts to foster conjugal in- timacy in eastern Hui’an can be viewed as part of these broader circuits of affect and power, and yet their goals and consequences have also been influenced by the spe— cific socialist civilizational ideals and ethnic hierarchies that have defined this coastal region. By promoting con- jugality as a union based on affective ties, socialist re- formers sought to separate marriage from the larger kinship domain in which it had been embedded and to diminish the power of ostensibly feudal bonds organized around patrilineal kinship and women’s non-kin, same—sex networks.3 At the same time, they also aspired to bring Hui’an women into conformity with a standard of marital practice deemed proper for the nation’s Han majority, the group to which such women purportedly belonged. These multiple goals made the privileging of conjugal intimacy in eastern Hui’an much more than an end in itself. The nurturing of marital “feelings” became a step (albeit a crit- ical one) in a larger process of cultivating the productive, liberated subjects who would constitute the more encom- passing intimate community of the socialist nation. Par- ticipation in this redefined conjugality functioned as a sign, in other words, that individual Hui’an women iden- tified with the liberated Han subject of Chinese socialism and were receptive to the collective ideals of productivity and selflessness this subjectification demanded. In the end, however, intrusive state reform efforts under the Maoist regime in the 19505 and 19605 largely failed to redirect women's affective energies to the conju- gal unit and, through it, to the nation-state. Instead, as I show below, extended kin networks, same-sex peers, and village communities continued to guide marital decision making and expectations for proper female behavior well into the post-Mao era of market reforms (1979 to the present). When young women in the 19903 began to aspire to the kind of conjugal intimacy espoused by socialist reformers of decades prior, they were able to realize those desires because of a very different sociopolitical configu— ration in which market forces (and the ideals of self- fulfillment they spawned) articulated with population control policies to create a climate of societal openness paired with intensified state regulation of marriage and reproduction. That Hui’an women’s intimate lives changed because of this convergence between new state regulatory policies and market forces, rather than older marriage reforms, suggests that different configurations of state and economy have had different capacities to define desires and subjectivities at once intimate and political. This outcome also raises the question of whether the state has succeeded in shaping its citizens' intimate lives to its 313 American Ethnologist I Volume 32 NumberZ May 2005 original purposes. For, as young Hui'an women began to satisfy desires that socialist reformers had long sought to inculcate in them, they did so in a wide range of romantic relationships, not all of them marital. Hence, in conform- ing to socialist visions of liberated female subjectivity, they also initiated new intimate forms with the potential to undermine the productive and reproductive goals of the current late-socialist regime.4 In the remainder of this article, I trace these linked and often conflicting trajectories of conjugal intimacy, state power, and market forces, first, by introducing the eastern Hui'an region and the cultural practices that have distinguished its residents from other rural Han Chinese. Next, I look briefly at the Maoist period (particularly the 19505 and 19603), when marital reforms and their con— nection to new forms of socialist subjectivity were intro- duced. In turning to the striking changes that have occurred with the market reforms of the post—Mao era, I examine the initial decade of the 19805 as a transitional period during which socialist ideals of conjugal intimacy were becoming interlaced with new desires engendered by market forces. I then analyze the transformations in mar- ital practice and values taking place in the 1990s, with particular attention to how expanding economic opportu- nities and youth leisure activities have interacted with population policies to make such changes possible. In concluding, I highlight several unintended consequences of this new convergence of intimacy and state power in eastern Hui'an. The problem of eastern Hui’an Hui’an County lies halfway along the coast of China’s Fujian Province, directly across the straits from Taiwan. As one travels the main highway that bisects the eastern part of the county, also known as Huidong, one passes through villages and towns built largely out of pale gray granite, surrounded by the dark green of sweet potato and peanut plots. Over the ten years that I have been visiting the region, I have witnessed its passage from a remote, marginalized coastline to a flourishing site of industry and tourism. Deeply rutted dirt roads have slowly given way to paved highways; dark, squat buildings have been replaced by modern, multistoried homes and businesses; and care- fully tended fields have gradually yielded to cavernous, dimly lit stone-carving factories—the new economic motor of the region. Huidong was historically quite poor, with an economy based primarily on fishing (which sent men away from home for months on end) and the few crops that could be grown by women in the sandy soil of the coast. By the time I began research in the easternmost township of Chongwu in the mid-19905, however, market reforms introduced by the national government over a decade earlier were begin- 314 ning to expand this narrow economic universe. Township officials had seized on the opportunity to mechanize a local stone-carving industry and develop what would become a burgeoning export sector. By 1995, several hundred enter- prises across the township had begun to produce grave- stones and gravesite adornment for overseas markets. The dusty factories dotting the landscape offer lucrative em- ployment to both young women and men, shielding them from the migratory pressures faced by youth elsewhere in rural China and creating a work environment in which young people can meet and socialize casually. Together with the rise of consumerism and the emphasis on indi- vidual needs and self-fulfillment that have emerged with market reforms, the stone—carving industry has dramati- cally altered the contours of community life. A growing range of new consumer establishments complement the industry’s mixed-sex workplaces and foster a vibrant youth culture funded by access to wage income. It was not Huidong’s long-standing poverty or its current wave of prosperity that markedly distinguished the region from its surrounding areas, however. Instead, it was the distinctive nature of local marriage practices (known in the scholarly literature as Chang zhu niangiia, or extended postmarital natal residence), coupled with unique styles of female dress and the power of all—female networks. In most rural Han communities, women tradi- tionally took up immediate residence in their husband’s home or village on marrying, at which point they effectively transferred their obligations and allegiances to their conju- gal families. Huidong women, by contrast, did not reside with their husbands after marriage. Several days after the wedding, they returned to live with their natal families and made only periodic visits to their conjugal homes, usually when summoned by a mother-in-law or sister-in—law. Dur- ing this period of postmarital separation, wives were con- sidered part of their birth families: they labored for and contributed wages to them and were included in natal family rituals and ancestral worship. Because women were not expected to live permanently with their husbands until they bore a child, most young wives sought to maintain the freedom of natal residence by shunning conjugal Visits to avoid sexual relations and the pregnancy that might result.5 Well into the last decade, married women in the Huidong village of Shanlin continued to reside with their parents prior to bearing their first child.6 Through the early 19905, most marriages in the community were arranged by parents or matchmakers and often took place when both parties were still in their teens, well below the legal mar- riage age. Moreover, women faced ridicule and condemna— tion from female peers and other villagers if they displayed an inclination to sleep or live with their husbands in their early married years. Not surprisingly, I found that through— out most of the 20th century, Shanlin couples typically lived apart for at least four to six years after marriage. These practices might have attracted less concern if, after 1949, eastern Hui’an residents had been identified as members of one of China’s many national minorities. Instead, they were classified by the socialist regime (and they defined themselves) as Han, the majority ethnic group that, to borrow Brackette F. Williams’s apt phrase, “metonymize the nation” (1989:439). As official members of the national majority, Huidong villagers were expected to pursue ways of life that reflected their “civilized” status within a new socialist evolutionary hierarchy, distinguish- ing them from minorities whose customs (despite being dismissed as “primitive” or "uncivilized”) were initially protected by the party-state. Because Huidong marriage patterns, together with women’s dress styles and same- sex social networks, resembled those of certain minority groups, however, local women in particular came to oc- cupy an anomalous position within this socialist hierar- chy, one that was simultaneously Han and, yet, not quite Han. Accordingly, women’s intimate lives became sub- ject to intense state scrutiny as reformers struggled to remake them in the image of the liberated Han socialist subject. In other words, Han civility and socialist libera- tion were tied to the practice of a form of conjugal inti- macy that was radically at odds with existing Huidong marriage customs. Marital reform as state civilizational project Why were the marriages of its citizens of such grave concern to China’s new socialist regime? In all political systems, marriages are inherently public as well as private affairs; they link the individual, the community, and the state in a common bond, enabling states to use marriage and family policies to promote their own visions of citi- zenship and national belonging (Borneman 1992; Cott 2000; Kendall 1996). Certainly Maoist state reformers in the 19503 and 19603 were closely attuned to this public face of marriage, for it was clearly articulated in the specific meanings attributed to marriage under state so- cialism. Influenced by the 19th-century anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan, the Chinese Communist Party iden- tified marriage as a key feature defining a group’s evolu- tionary and ethnic status (McKhann 1995:43—44).7 By correlating different forms of marriage with levels of tech- nological advancement, the new regime matched mar- riage customs and family organization with progressive stages of societal evolution, making marriage central to a national project of building a socialist civilization. Fixing the form and content of marriage became a means by which, as John Bomeman argues, "the state rename[d] and classifie[d] its citizens in a particular way” (1992:303); at the same time, by intervening in their marriages, socialist reformers also sought to produce those citizens in a spe- cific mode, as liberated socialist subjects. The intimacy of state power - American Ethnologist This approach to marriage as a developmental marker was further premised on the belief that, with the proper influence, groups could transform how they married and move up the evolutionary ladder toward full socialist liberation. Reformers drew inspiration from Morgan’s model as they encountered unusual marriage practices in eastern Hui’an, classifying local women as evolutionary oddities mired in a backward, feudal developmental stage (see Lin 1981). Under the auspices of the socialist regime's first piece of national legislation, the 1950 Marriage Law, outside work teams and local cadres in eastern Hui’an set out to eradicate the oppressive vestiges of this feudal marriage system and replace them with civilized socialist marriages. Focused on eliminating arranged marriages, instilling an ethos of free choice in marital decision mak- ing, enforcing the legal marriage age and marital registra- tion, and encouraging wives to reside with and labor for their husbands immediately after their wedding, Marriage Law campaigns aspired to make marital reform integral to societal transformation in eastern Hui’an. Their purpose was not simply the liberation of women or the under- mining of patrilineal kin groups (although these were not insignificant goals); rather, marriage reforms also aimed to fashion appropriately liberated socialist subjects who would at once constitute the new socialist nation and reaffirm its civilizing power. Transforming how women married became a means to “sculpt the body politic” (Cott 200025), and yet the end result of that sculpting process was far from certain. Despite repeated campaigns during the height of Marriage Law implementation in the 19505, marital reforms often foundered in the face of women’s commitment to local customs and entrenched patterns of conjugal avoidance. Women, return to your husbands’ homes In a period of renewed ideological fervor in the mid-19603, county and commune officials set out once again to eradicate the stubborn roots of feudal marriage practices in eastern Hui’an, calling on fimzi, whom Tani E. Barlow has called “national woman under a Maoist-communist state inscription" (1994345), to fulfill her role in the proletarian revolution by abandoning backward postmar- ital residence patterns and realizing her full productive potential. Known as the “Women, Return to Your Hus- bands’ Homes” (Funu‘ hui firjia) movement, this massive campaign, the last of its kind in the region, began in 1964 and continued until the beginning of the Cultural Revolu- tion in 1966—67.8 Teams of local cadres, female Youth League members, and militia women fanned out across the county's easternmost commune to track down young wives who had yet to reside with their husbands’ families and encourage them to assume conjugal residence. Indi- vidual brigades organized nightly study classes to educate 315 American Ethnologist I Volume 32 NumberZ May 2005 newly resident wives about the benefits of marital coresi- dence, using class participation to monitor their residence patterns. Officials also arranged collective meals and work assignments that would tie these women and their labor to their conjugal communities. According to one former female cadre I interviewed who helped organize the move- ment in Shanlin, “Only [if we arranged work] would they stay. We began with the collective, [and the wives] slowly got used to it.” Despite the scope and intensity of this campaign, however, scores of young wives refused to reside perma- nently with their husbands. Many required multiple visits from campaign activists before they could be convinced to move, and others complied only for a few days and then fled back to their natal villages. Soehua, for example, mar- ried into Shanlin from a village on the far side of the commune in 1965 at the height of the movement. As we sat on her balcony 30 years later discussing this momen- tous campaign, Soehua described how, shortly after her wedding, members of the Shanlin Youth League and its party branch secretary came to urge her to shift residence. She recalled that all of the nonresident wives in her natal village were quite young at the time and feared living away from home with strange men and demanding mothers—in- law, subject to even greater labor burdens without the support of same-sex peers. “We didn’t accept [the idea of residence shift]," Soehua asserted, “at 17, we mostly didn't come.” Taking advantage of temporary lulls in nightly study classes or the chaos that descended with the Cultural Revolution, young wives who had not yet become preg~ nant quickly abandoned their new work responsibilities and fled back to their natal villages. Soehua herself did not move permanently to Shanlin until 1971 when she gave birth to her first child. Why were such campaigns unable to alter local mar- riage practices? The cyclical nature of the movements themselves contributed significantly to their failure, for the ebb and flow of state interventions encouraged young women and their elders to ignore or only minimally com- ply with cadre and work team demands, knowing that once a campaign ended, life would return to normal. Tania Murray Li has described similar reactions to state develop- ment programs in Indonesia as the product of “an intimate, sometimes cynical knowledge of the limits of state ca- pacity to deliver on promises” (1999:316; see also Herzfeld 1997). A corresponding familiarity with socialist reform campaigns drew Huidong residents into an emerging na- tional community organized around the rhythms of official propaganda and mass movements, but their repeated ex- perience of campaign limits simultaneously inspired skep- ticism toward the very policies designed to produce that national body. As a result, basic elements of eastern Hui‘an’s distinctive marriage system remained in place, de- spite widespread propaganda statements to the contrary. 315 Many Shanlin residents who married in the first dec- ades after 1949 claimed that the Marriage Law’s emphasis on marital freedom and self-determination had little im- pact on parental matchmaking traditions; at most, they recalled, a young person was shown a picture of his or her future spouse or allowed a brief meeting and then given the nominal right to refuse the match. Customary prohib- itions on same-surname marriage created additional obstacles to free spousal choice, making it difficult for youths to meet eligible partners on their own. When coupled with a norm of patrilocal residence, surname exogamy forced most women to marry out of their natal villages into other communities in the region. All of these factors—early, arranged, surname-exogamous, and patri— local mam’ages—encouraged women's postmarital natal residence by creating conditions that made young wives unwilling to live with their conjugal families. By the mid- to late 19505, moreover, Marriage Law campaigns were rapidly giving way to efforts to collectiv- ize the rural economy, engendering new pressures that also undermined effective marital reform. Unlike predom- inately agricultural communities in which collectively owned fields increased opportunities for non-kin women and men to meet and work together on a regular basis (Parish and Whyte 1978; Yan 2002), in eastern Hui’an the collectivization of fishing, farming, and manual labor rein- forced gendered labor patterns, separating young women and men in their daily tasks and sending them away from their home villages for months or even years at a time. As a result, the number of occasions on which young wives would or could visit their husbands was significantly diminished, in turn perpetuating their postmarital natal residence and, in some cases, further lengthening periods of conjugal separation.9 Because reform campaigns failed to overturn many of these underlying conditions, they ultimately produced few changes in local marital practice. They were more success— ful, however, in mobilizing an array of propaganda tools to redefine the larger significance of marriage itself, incorpo- rating conjugality into a national effort to build a produc- tive, liberated socialist society. Propaganda folk songs and campaign rhetoric conveyed the message that socialist marriages were not to be confined by shyness, reluctance, or shame—all ostensibly products of oppressive social relations and the repressed consciousness of subjugated women—but were to build, instead, on openly acknowl- edged “feelings” (ganqing). Here, reformers were appro- priating a standard term for feeling or sentiment and imbuing it with newly politicized content, making it avail- able to the project of socialist construction. Folk songs promulgated throughout Huidong in the 19505 and 19603 urged couples to “build feelings” (iianli ganqing) for one another, a collective endeavor that would lead to improved family harmony and enhanced productivity (see also Dong Zhou 1952). These efforts to eradicate postmarital separation and to “build feelings,” in other words, were also oriented toward creating a productive society liber- ated from the bonds of feudal family and economic forces. In this manner, Maoist reformers in the 19505 and 19605 appeared committed to fostering intimacy in Huidong marriages, thereby enabling villagers to claim the subjective status realized through processes of inti- mate recognition (Povinelli 2002). This subject was not the self (the “I") of liberal humanism, however, but the pro- ductive socialist citizen dedicated to the selfless enterprise of building a socialist nation. As a consequence, the image of conjugal intimacy conveyed by campaign propaganda distanced spouses from the experiential aspects of mar riage itself, orienting them toward more abstract collective ideals. I see use of the term building as an intentional discursive choice that made human relations into compo- nents of a larger productive apparatus. This mechanistic approach to marriage reform treated “feelings” as the nuts and bolts of a productive relationship. Villagers were supposed to assemble those components in the proper order to create a liberated socialist marriage. To do so, however, they had to identify with the project of marital reform and, in “recognizfingl themselves as its addres- sees” (Gal and Kligman 20002117), realize the connection between a discourse of socialist liberation and their own marital desires.10 In the end, the limited achievements of Maoist re- form campaigns confirmed that the process of forging this link was not so simple. Neither was the meaning of female liberation itself so clear-cut. Reformers hastily condemned women’s postmarital natal residence as a feudal remnant that sapped society’s productive power and encouraged scores of young women to take their own lives. Hence, they failed to consider why women remained so committed to the practice and ignored its empowering potential—the way it gave women time to adjust to a new, frightening, and at times abusive situation and enabled them to pre- serve what they viewed as the freedom of natal residence. Instead, reformers emphasized the needs of husbands, who, so they argued, turned to dissolute habits like visiting prostitutes and gambling in the face of such “abnormal” conjugal relations (Summary 1952; see also Lin 1981:259). Reaffirming their commitment to patrilocal family arrangements, reformers contended that wives belonged in their husbands’ homes, often employing simple rhetor- ical conventions like use of the verb to return (hui) to describe a married woman’s residence shift, as in the “Women, Return” campaign. Only when she resided with her husband, seemingly, could China’s new socialist woman display her properly twinned commitment to building a Civilized socialist marriage and creating a pro- ductive social order. Thus, marital reforms during the Maoist period aspired to wed gendered visions of the The intimacy of state power - American Ethnologist liberated socialist subject to state civilizational and devel- opmental goals, embedding conjugal intimacy in a na- tional project of socialist construction. "Reform and opening” in the post-Mao era Despite reformers’ efforts to define the new socialist woman (funii) as one who established feelings and inti- macy with her husband, Huidong women generally failed to identify with this subject position or to change their mar- riage practices accordingly. As a result, Shanlin residents who married in the 19805, the first decade of post—Mao market reforms, painted a picture of conjugal relationships strikingly similar to those of their elders. Young people were still acquiescing to matches arranged by parents, often when they were mere children, frequently to people with whom they had never spoken or whom they had only glimpsed from afar. Marriage at ages 15 and 16 was not uncommon for women in the 19805; in fact, the return to incentive~based remuneration and household production with market reforms enabled village families to accumulate the resources needed to marry off their children, and many were doing so at increasingly younger ages, well below the new legal standard of 20 for women and 22 for men enshrined in the 1980 Marriage Law.11 Conjugal intimacy continued to be thwarted by the lengthy postmarital separations that re- mained the norm in Shanlin: Of the 120 Shanlin marriages I documented for the period 1977—89, 36 percent of the couples did not reside together until four to six years after marriage, 29 percent waited seven to nine years, and 6 per- cent lived apart for ten years or more. Only 17 percent of women who married during this period moved in with their husbands within three years of marrying.12 Once again, however, the Maoist regime’s efforts to redefine marriage had not completely failed, for like state actors elsewhere, reformers had been somewhat success- ful in introducing a shared discursive framework that established the key terms and concepts through which debates and struggles over marital practice and ideals would take place in ensuing decades (see Joseph and Nugent 1994220; Roseberry 1994). Well into the 19908,. when a similar language of “comrade” and "class strug- gle” had generally been dismissed as anachronistic, Shan- lin men and women continued to weave this official discourse into their own speech, at once to condemn prac- tices long attacked by socialist reformers and to shore up local standards of respectable femininity. They depicted extended natal~residence marriage and its practitioners as feudal and backward, criticized wives’ reluctance to live with their husbands as a product of “closed” or “fettered” thinking, and often ridiculed young women hesitant to visit their husbands or socialize with non-kin men, de- scribing them in local dialect as pai se—ashamed, embar- rassed, or shy.l3 When I asked villagers who wed in the 317 American Ethnologist - Volume 32 Number 2 May 2005 19805 to recount for me their own marital experiences, I was struck by the widespread use of such language both as a form of critique and as a description of expected behav- iors, even among those much too young to have personally experienced the high socialist campaigns that introduced this rhetoric. Put simply, then, residents continued to represent themselves and their practices through the se- miotic frameworks established by the post-1949 leader- ship, despite the fact that doing so reinforced their standing as less than fully liberated socialist subjects. At the same time, this official discourse did not always retain a direct connection to its original goals. As William Roseberry argues, “The state, which never stops talking . . . has a number of audiences who hear different things; and who, in repeating what the state says to still other audiences, change the words, tones, inflections, and meanings" (19942365). The expressions of fear, shyness, shame, and closed thinking that figured prominently in villagers' accounts of early post-Mao marriages were the very sentiments Mao-era reformers had argued were in- compatible with the status of a liberated socialist subject. Yet by the 19905, Shanlin residents deployed socialist rhetoric with very different goals in mind, providing a striking example of the flexible and often fragile quality of state discourse. This fragility itself calls into the question the ability of state actors to produce particular forms of subjectivity by fixing the discursive frameworks through which intimate practices are made both politically and socially meaningful. The marital recollections of Siuden, a slight yet feisty Shanlin native, provide a good example of how villagers adapted a state discourse of marital behavior to portray their own experiences. Siuden was married in 1986 at age 17 to another village youth selected by her parents. Her husband had been adopted as a child, a status that made him somewhat undesirable as a spouse because people assumed, that he would not maintain close ties to his parents or benefit from the support they would provide their birth children. Nevertheless, Siuden had her first child four years into the marriage—a relatively standard period of postmarital separation in Shanlin—and began residing with her husband immediately thereafter. When I met Siuden in 1995, she was living in a rented home in the older section of the village, together with her husband and their three children. Dissatisfied with their living situation and her husband’s ability to provide for the family, she relished recounting for me the fear she had experienced on her wedding night when she first encoun- tered her husband: “I was sitting on the bed and refused to face him, turned away. It was night, the doors were all closed. I didn't know him at all.” Having married a man from her own village did not make Siuden any more comfortable with her husband, and she avoided him as best she could: “If I went to the harbor and ran into him, 318 my heart would begin to beat fast and pound. I was scared to death. If he was with a group of men, I would run away as fast as I could.” “In those days,” she continued, “it was like that. Everyone was afraid, everyone was pai se.” The intertwining of fear, shame, and avoidance in Siuden’s narrative is precisely what earlier reform cam- paigns had sought to replace with liberated thinking and a norm of conjugal intimacy. And yet for Siuden, such sentiments were not simply reflections of internal states (feudal or closed consciousness), as was so often claimed by outside work teams and local cadres; they were literally embodied—something Siuden emphasized when she slammed shut the door of her house to re-create for me the physical shock of fear and isolation she experienced on her wedding night. For women of Siuden’s generation as well as their elders, these dispositions constituted a way of acting in the world that was expected of young Shanlin wives: fleeing at first sight of an approaching mother-in— law, performing the bare minimum of required tasks in one's conjugal home and then escaping at the earliest pos- sible moment, or spending the entire night of a conjugal visit standing against a wall or sitting in a chair, refusing to get into bed with a strange husband. The normalizing force of such expectations had continued throughout the Maoist decades, undermining state—sponsored efforts to “liberate” women from ostensibly oppressive marriage practices and produce them as socialist subjects defined by new modes of conjugal intimacy. Even when Shanlin women used the language of such reforms in the 19903, moreover, they rarely expressed a commitment to the original goals of Maoist campaigns. In fact, as in Siuden’s case, this discourse might just as readily have been deployed to express discontent with one’s husband and his ability to support the family. Not all villagers, however, expressed the same reac- tions to community expectations of shyness and avoid- ance on the part of new wives. By the 19805, socialist ideals of liberated marriage were becoming interlaced with a discourse of marital desires and intimacy influenced by the rapidly commodified and individualistic environment of the market-reform era. The post-Mao regime’s empha— sis on progress and openness was inspiring not only eco- nomic development and international trade but also the flowering of personal needs and desires in emerging pat— terns of courtship and marriage (see Farrer 2002). In Shanlin, young men were the first to seize on this conver- gence, dissatisfied as many of them were with the lack of intimacy in existing marital practices. Zinzai married in 1984 at age 19 to a Shanlin woman two years his junior, his marriage arranged by a match— maker and the auspicious wedding date selected by his father during Zinzai’s absence from the village. The couple met for the first time on their wedding day. Despite his wife’s reluctance to join him in bed or even look him in the face, Zinzai maintained that he sought to persuade her of his good intentions on the rare occasions after the wed- ding when she did acquiesce to conjugal visits. He re- counted his experience of these visits for me during a series of interviews in the winter of 1997: Ah, sometimes it was cold. I could see how she suffered and it made me angry. I would say to her, “Anyway, it doesn’t matter if you sleep, if you won't sleep [at least] sit on the bed, it’s warm. It doesn’t matter.” But she didn’t dare. She just stood there so cold that she was shivering and her nose was running. I was so angry that I couldn’t sleep. Zinzai’s early frustrations with his wife permeated his recollections of their tense initial years of marriage. His vivid depictions of how she shivered through the cold night as she stood alone to avoid joining him in bed reinforced an image widely painted for me by men and women alike: that of the feudal young wife whose aloof- ness, shyness, and fear of physical contact were often dif- ficult for new husbands to accept. Zinzai himself recalled being outraged by his wife‘s distance: “I was so angry that I didn’t want to pay any attention to her. I called out to her with good intentions, not with any ulterior motives, noth- ing. But in those days, no one’s thinking was open, village women weren’t open-minded. They all were afraid of being ashamed or embarrassed [gnia pai se].” One can see in Zinzai’s account the place of openness as the antithesis of feudal dispositions marked by shame, _ embarrassment, and fear. According to Zinzai, a wife who was open would have been willing to sleep with her husband during conjugal visits, and she would have ac— companied him in public, perhaps attending a movie playing at the village theater or traveling with him to visit one of the cities along the coast. Even though this dis- course of openness was circulating in Huidong villages by the 19805, it was rarely coupled with changes in actual marital practice, as Siuden's and Zinzai's experiences make abundantly clear. Like the state-sponsored reforms of earlier decades, the “reform and opening” policies ushered in by the post—Mao leadership in the 19805 as it led the country toward a market economy were unable to create the conditions that would produce significant changes in how Shanlin couples married. As Zinzai‘s wife, A Lan, listened to her husband’s depiction of her as a young bride, she was indignant that he would have expected her to act differently, retorting, “In those days, who did things like that?" Clearly the introduction of market forces alone was not enough to convince women such as A Lan to adopt new conjugal practices. What would make marital changes possible for a younger gen- eration coming of age in the 19905 was the convergence of market forces with new state regulatory policies. a config- The intimacy of state power - American Ethnologist uration that would enable youth to realize forms of inti- macy unattainable in prior decades. "Open" marriages In the mid-19905, Shanlin marriages suddenly began to look increasingly like the liberated marriages advocated by socialist reformers 30 to 40 years prior. Both young women and men now emphasized “being open" in their marital practices as part of enacting a form of courtship and marriage they deemed appropriate for the more lib- eral society ushered in with stone-carving factories and an increasingly vibrant market economy. For post-Mao youth, however, this conjugal intimacy was not oriented toward earlier state goals of socialist liberation and height- ened productivity, but ideals of heterosexual compatibility and attraction that dovetailed with newly integrated in— dustrial workplaces and an expanding realm of leisure activities. These new aims produced striking changes in how young people socialized with one another, how they produced intimacy in their marriages, and how they de- fined themselves as open and progressive subjects. As A Lan continued her tirade against her husband, she con- trasted the marital norms of her generation with those of youth in the 19905, concluding, “It wasn’t like nowadays. Now they go all over the place even before marriage, they stay in hotels together.” The changes in courtship and marriage that sparked A Lan’s outburst are indeed striking when one compares them with long—standing patterns of conjugal avoidance in Shanlin. In contrast to young wives (and often hus- bands) who were ashamed (pai se), who did not dare to speak directly to their spouses, much less eat or venture out in public with them, young couples in the 19905 were actively cultivating relationships based on feelings, choice, and shared activities. Staying in hotels together was obvi- ously one of the more controversial of these activities, and it represented a marked departure from the portrayal of the new bride who refused to join her husband in bed. This ability to travel outside the community for pleasure was itself the product of a changing mix of state and market forces, including a less intrusive state apparatus that no longer strictly monitored citizens’ movements, together with young people's access to independent income in a wage—based economy. That in A Lan’s eyes such travel took place “even before marriage" was also the result of newly enforced marital registration procedures that, as I show below, produced state recognition of marriages prior to community acknowledgment. The ideal of open, progressive marriage to which contemporary Shanlin youth aspired rested on several key features. Many young people argued that the most important thing to look for in a marital relationship was the existence of feelings between the two people, again the American Ethnologist I Volume 32 Number 2 May 2005 sentiment earlier reformers had argued was critical to the establishment of a liberated socialist marriage based on conjugal intimacy. Whereas Mao-era officials had urged an older generation of Shanlin residents to “build feelings" in their marriages, however, youth in the mid-19908 empha- sized the need to “cultivate feelings.” "Cultivation" (peiyang) presumed devotion to the relationship itself, a bond between two people that was developed over time through familiarity and mutual understanding. Whereas “building” had mechanistically incorporated marriage in- to a larger productive project premised on a couple’s laboring together, “cultivating” refocused young people’s attention on creating a more personal form of conjugal intimacy through engaging in leisure activities such as strolling together along the beach, visiting restaurants and singing karaoke, or taking trips to nearby cities. This was a conjugal intimacy that seemed free of parental and community intervention—one that, at first glance, also appeared detached from collective goals and state regula- tory policies. For young Shanlin women like A Ping, cultivating feelings was essential to newly emerging marital ambi- tions. A Ping was originally forced into an arranged mar- riage by her parents and grandparents when she was 16, during a period when cadres generally ignored underage marriages and families tended to marry their children young. A mere 20 years old when we met in 1996, A Ping was still childless and, therefore, she continued to reside in her natal home. When I asked her to describe her relation- ship with her husband, A Ping admitted that she did not know him very well because he had been away for much of their marriage, fishing for tuna on his father’s deep-sea boat. She had tried to cultivate feelings in their relation- ship despite his frequent absences, but the arranged nature of their match left her with a deep sense of bitterness. A Ping also attributed her marital unhappiness to her contentious relationship with her mother—in-law, who, she claimed, treated her as an outsider and frequently de- meaned her and her family in public. In that first year we spent together, A Ping's regular run-ins with her mother-in-law intensified her desire for a divorce, but she acknowledged that her parents, although supportive in principle, would not permit her to initiate the divorce request, for to do so would cost the family too much in compensation money.14 During a late—night talk one cold winter evening when I stayed over at her home, A Ping summed up her mood of despair: “So now I just have to wait; nothing will change until my husband returns [from fishing overseas]. We are really hurt by this arranged marriage, and so young. I just want to find someone with whom I can get along, someone I can talk to."15 More important than a supportive mother-in-law, A Ping frequently argued, was the presence of feelings between spouses, something that had to be cultivated over 3le time through regular interaction and hence was lacking in her own marriage. By cultivating feelings even in ar— ranged marriages, Shanlin youth sought to redefine their conjugal bonds to more closely approximate the ideal of an open, progressive marital relationship. Like A Ping, they could never actually realize that ideal, however, because by agreeing to an arranged match they had given up another of its widely recognized preconditions, free spousal choice. Choosing one’s own spouse had been a major plank in the marriage-reform campaigns of the 19503 and 19603; it was advocated in propaganda folk songs and official statements as critical to throwing off feudal shackles and liberating women from the oppression of postmarital natal residence. But only in the mid-19905 were young people beginning to realize these ideals of marital freedom beyond initial efforts to cultivate feelings. Inspired by popular media images of romantic love and emboldened by a new culture of mixed—sex socializing emerging from industrial workplaces, growing numbers broke off childhood engagements arranged by parents or divorced unsuitable spouses.16 These market-inspired trends were bolstered by renewed government efforts to enforce the legal marriage age and, by 1994, women’s average age at first marriage had jumped to 22 years (with that for men equivalent or a few years older). Now that youths had more time before they married, scores began openly seeking marriage partners on their own initiative, whereas others allowed parents and kin to suggest a potential mate but insisted on getting to know the person before making a final decision. In A Ping’s case, this new youth culture produced both empowering possibilities and additional hurdles in her ef— forts to transform her arranged marriage. Like many young people in the mid-19905, A Ping socialized in mixed-sex groups and visited the new leisure and consumer sites that had emerged with the stone-carving industry. Although she was married, her continued natal residence and her husband’s extended absence from the village enabled her to create a social life fairly similar to that of her unmarried peers. Yet unlike those peers, A Ping faced disapproving comments from her mother-in-law and elder sister-in-law, both of whom were quick to complain about the young men who stopped by her village shop each evening or about her outings to morally questionable social spaces like restaurants and karaoke parlors. A Ping sought to mitigate their criticisms by defending her own propriety, to the point of adopting a more modest approach to conjugal visits. Rather than initiate those visits herself, as most young wives did by the mid-19905, A Ping chose in— stead to wait for her mother- or sister—in—law to summon her. That her mother-in-law did call for her reflects the older woman's own commitment to a pattern of conjugal visiting premised on an earlier norm of reluctant brides, one that was rapidly disappearing in the community. Despite A Ping’s efforts at conciliation, when her husband returned to the village in 1997, he bowed to pressure from his mother and suddenly informed A Ping that he wanted a divorce. Divorce negotiations quickly deteriorated into open hostility between the couple’s fam- ilies, leaving A Ping in a liminal state somewhere between. being married and single. Under constant surveillance during the year it took to settle the divorce, A Ping pro- claimed to me when I saw her the following summer that the next time she married, it would be to someone who lived far away from such prying eyes. In 1999, when she finally wrote to tell me that she had found a new boyfriend among her coworkers at a local stone-carving factory, I was not surprised to learn that he hailed from Chongwu, the township seat, and not from Shanlin. Em— phasizing again the role of feelings and choice in her decision to make him her partner, A Ping explained, “Two or three coworkers pursued me, but I didn’t accept them. My boyfriend pursued me for a long time and treated me very well. He is very sincere about feelings, so I chose him." The regulatory state Yunxiang Yan (1997, 2003) has argued that conjugality has gradually “triumphed” over patriarchal family arrangements in rural China, leading to the empower- ment of youth and the conjugal unit over elders and the extended family. Although similar trends were clearly emerging in Shanlin by the mid-19905, the forces produc- ing them differed from those Yan found in north China. He traces these family dynamics to the effects of Mao-era marriage and collectivization policies that gradually erod- ed the bases of elder male and kin~based control, pro- ducing new definitions of the ideal family. In eastern Hui'an, however, such policies failed to engender desired changes in local marriage practices and family organiza- tion. Instead, it has been the recent convergence of market forces with population control policies that has strengthened the linkages between family and economy in an era of intensified anxieties over a properly produc- ing and consuming or, in Chinese discourse, “quality” (suzhi) population (Anagnost 1995, 2004: Sigley 1996). To foster a new breed of socialist citizen fit for the de~ mands of a market economy, post-Mao officials have once again focused their attention on marriage as a key productive and reproductive nexus joining individual de- sires to state efforts to cultivate quality in its citizenry. As I show below, however, this renewed attention, although successful in some respects, has also produced unfore- seen consequences for official goals of population control and improvement. Once family planning policies moved to the fore— front of village governance in the early to mid—19905, local The intimacy of state power I American Ethnologist cadres initiated a new campaign to make village so- ciety “legible” (Scott 1998; see also Diamant 2001). They began registering marriages and closely monitoring cou- ples’ ages, all as part of accomplishing the goals of late marriage and childbearing deemed critical to successful population control (see Greenhalgh 1993:1228). Although periodic attempts to limit births had been made in the 19803 and early 19905, only with a new policy push in 1994 did township and village cadres effectively link marriage regulation to the project of controlling the fertility of Shanlin women. No longer able to ignore bureaucratic requirements and marry their children when they pleased, as had A Ping’s parents, Shanlin residents soon faced a long list of procedures to follow. First, parents had to confirm that their child had in fact reached the legal marriage age, now determined by precise birth dates, rather than the tradi— tional reckoning system.17 Once age was established, the couple had their photo taken together, another key ele- ment of marriage registration established in principle as early as the 19505.18 Armed with a document from the village government attesting to their residence and ages, the engagement photo, and a sum of money, the couple then set off for the township or county government. There the woman underwent an ultrasound exam to deter- mine whether or not she was pregnant. Once cleared, the couple was given a marriage license (iiehun zheng) and a birth permission certificate (zhun sheng zheng), both necessary if they were to be permitted to have a child. The enforcement of marital registration has clearly enabled officials to extend their regulatory reach over both individuals and society more generally, elaborating a mode of governance organized around the production and disciplining of bodies and populations, or what F ou— cault (1978) termed “biopower.” Yet if one focuses ex— clusively on the ways such registration has made Huidong society legible to the late socialist regime, one misses other, equally important consequences of that process. By enforcing the legal marriage age and registration pro— cedures, officials have provided village youth with the time and recognition needed to reshape their marital experiences and expectations. Young people themselves argued that waiting until the legal age empowered them to cultivate feelings and establish mutual compatibility with potential spouses, both cornerstones of the conjugal inti— macy heralded by the early socialist regime. As I noted above, the legal recognition provided by official registra- tion also emboldened many couples to travel beyond the village borders, staying at hotels in the county seat or nearby cities, the very behavior that so outraged A Lan, Zinzai’s wife. Although registered couples were legally married in the eyes of the state, they lacked the social recognition bestowed by a wedding ceremony (Kendall 199629). In 321 American Ethnologist I Volume 32 Number2 May 2005 local dialect, legal registration was identified simply as, "becoming engaged” (ding him), a stage distinct from marriage (giat hun), as marked by the appropriate wed~ ding ritual and the social passage it performed. The strict enforcement of marital registration was beginning to re- define this distinction, however, such that the marriage process bore less and less resemblance to earlier social and ritual forms. For instance, not long after A Ping wrote to me in 1999, she and her boyfriend registered their marriage at the township government office and A Ping began living with him and his family. Bypassing earlier engagement rituals associated with arranged matches, the couple engaged in forms of behavior conventionally as- sociated with marriage, including spending the night to— gether (see also Yan 2002). Before their relationship was socially acknowledged by a wedding ceremony, moreover, A Ping was already pregnant with their first child. Whereas some women such as A Ping took up perma- nent residence in their conjugal homes before their wed- dings, others simply adapted the practice of periodic conjugal visits to fit the new stage of the marriage process created by official registration. Young women’s rejection of the conjugal avoidance practiced by reluctant brides in the past meant that they were becoming pregnant and shifting residence much sooner than their predecessors, and even those marrying for the first time were often pregnant by their wedding day. Parents and kin were more likely to condone such behavior, moreover, for given strict enforcement of the legal marriage age, a continued norm of postmarital separation in the community, and frequent changes in the population policy itself, many had begun to worry about their descendants’ marital and reproductive futures. As village youth started to socialize and even en- gage in sexual relations prior to and immediately following their wedding, elders generally countenanced these new practices precisely because they increased the likelihood of earlier pregnancy and coresidence. The growing accep- tance of such trends was reflected in the fact that of the 15 couples whose first marriages I recorded for the period 1994—97 (when the legal age and marital registration were strictly enforced), a little over half had had a child and moved in together within three years of their wedding. Renewed official preoccupation with marriage has also inspired transformations in the very conception and power of intimacy, producing unexpected consequences for both young women and local officials. The private conjugal intimacy that market forces have fostered is now interwoven with a form of public intimacy in which women’s wombs and reproductive potential are subject to stricter government scrutiny and community monitoring. Put another way, although for young people conjugal in- timacy is directed inward toward the marital relationship itself and their own needs and desires (as opposed to national goals of socialist construction), this intimacy is 322 simultaneously enabled by, and in turn supports, a new collective project of producing a properly disciplined and high—quality population.19 Young women in particular are closely attuned to these powerful linkages between inti- macy and state regulation as they incorporate the regula— tory effects of population policies into their own marital calculations. When I last returned to Shanlin in 2002, I found that although A Ping was no longer content with her second marriage, she was reluctant to end it for fear that she would be unable to remarry. Her concern was not with future spousal compatibility or affection, as in her previous marital decisions, but with her already having home a child (and a son at that), making her reproductive future subject to the whims of state policy and her own desirability as a spouse thereby uncertain. At the same time that this intensified state regulation appears to limit the emancipatory potential of conjugal intimacy, however, it also enables the expansion of inti— mate relationships beyond a narrow marital sphere. The social and sexual behaviors made possible by the enforce- ment of marriage registration have begun to take on a life of their own in Shanlin. As officials and older villagers gradually accepted the practice of conjugal visits and public socializing once a couple had registered with the government, those practices began to spread to couples too young to register, whose sexual activity fell outside the regulatory purview of the state. By the mid— to late 19905, growing numbers of young women and men were forming relationships prior to reaching the legal marriage age, not all of which culminated in marriage. Even when those relationships involved sexual intimacy, local cadres had no recourse for controlling or even monitoring the fertility of the women involved, precisely because state conceptions of sexuality focused exclusively on reproduc— tion within marriage (Friedman 2000).20 Only if an under— age woman became pregnant would officials intervene. Thus, despite broadening and intensifying the sphere of bureaucratic control, new state efforts to regulate marriage (and, through it, fertility) have produced a range of unin- tended consequences. Some of these potentially under- mine the regulatory aims of the population policy, whereas others call into question the purely personal nature of new ideals of sexual and conjugal intimacy. Conclusion I began this article by asking why the ability and desire to forge marriages based on feelings and free choice emerged not from the reformist campaigns of high social- ism that introduced this particular model of conjugal intimacy but from the largely unintended consequences of a more recent meeting of market forces with new state regulatory policies. It is this latter convergence~including bureaucratic interventions aimed at controlling fertility and marriage, a market economy, mixed-sex work and leisure activities, and a general atmosphere of societal openness—that has ultimately created an environment in which marital intimacy has flourished with broad social acceptance. From this perspective, neither state- sponsored reforms nor market forces alone have been able to produce lasting changes in intimate life in east- ern Hui’an. Erik Mueggler has argued that “as state power grew increasingly intimate” in post-Mao China, it also “became ever more elusive, more spectral, more difficult to grasp and comprehend" (2001:287). Whereas Mueggler is con— cerned with how members of a marginalized minority community imagine and experience the power of an ap- parently disembodied state, I have shown how Shanlin women have come to embody and own practices and ideals that state actors had long sought to inculcate in them. In this case, young women attribute their new ma- rital desires not to an earlier state-sponsored vision of so- cialist conjugality but to ideals of openness and progress they associate with market forces and consumer aspira- tions. Yet the apparent spectrality of the state in their model of causality overlooks the lingering impact of prior reformist initiatives. For as young women in the 19905 cul- tivated marriages based on feelings and choice, they simul- taneously conformed to the image of the liberated socialist subject the regime had struggled for decades to produce. At the same time, however, the recent convergence of state regulatory policies with market forces in eastern Hui’an has generated a series of contradictory effects that undermine a simple model of official repression or youth liberation. Although state surveillance of young women’s bodies, sexual behavior, and marriages enables local offi- cials to enter personal lives in unprecedented ways, it also inspires new sexual ideals and intimate relationships that appear to threaten both the reach of official regulation and national goals of population control. The methods adopted by village youth for creating these intimate rela- tionships are themselves fueled by the fruits of market reforms—wage income and mixed-sex workplaces— inspiring forms of consumption and leisure activities that conflict with the productivist orientation of a regime committed to building a socialist civilization founded on a high~quality population. Given these inherent conflicts, the experiences and desires of young women and men in eastern Hui'an will likely continue to be inflected by an ongoing struggle over the very meaning and consequences of marriage and intimate attachments. Modern state power clearly works internally as well as externally, shaping subjectivity and desire along with monitoring borders, imposing taxes, and enforcing laws. Only recently, however, have scholars begun to explore the connections between state power and intimacy, and the role of intimate attachments in creating subjects who can The intimacy of state power - American Ethnologist be integrated into national bodies. A more diverse body of literature investigates the effects of capitalist markets and industrial labor on marriage and family organization, from ships as thoroughly as they analyze “traditional” bonds (Collier 1997). Perhaps we should not be surprised that studies of family, marriage, and courtship in capitalist so- cieties tend to emphasize economic factors as the source of changes in these domains, whereas similar inquiries in the socialist world often highlight the role of state policies and official actors. By integrating these two approaches, this article shows how both market and state forces call on individuals to produce themselves as new kinds of sub- jects through transforming intimate life. In so doing, it also proposes a broader conception of intimacy—one shaped as much from without as from within—as a basis for un- derstanding how and why official actors across different state systems have aspired to define their citizens’ most intimate acts and desires. As in liberal multicultural societies, in socialist systems it is often the intimate lives of those on the margins, or those who threaten to undermine the majority from within, that face the denial of public recognition ‘or the demand for change. In these contexts—when diverse same-sex pleasures appear to threaten the heterosexual nation (Berlant 1997), when indigenous groups are compelled to define kinship in ways recognizable to the postcolonial white majority (Povi- nelli 2002), or, as in this case, when ostensibly Han women fail to reproduce the Chinese nation in its desired image by refusing to live or have sex with their husbands—sex, reproduction, desire, and intimacy become most clearly intertwined with citizenship, national belonging, and dom- inant visions of the national subject. Certainly, members of marginalized communities are not the only ones who experience the dehumanizing effects of denied intimacy; neither do those on the margins completely lack the re- sources with which to assert and enact their own desires. But their experiences shed light on processes that affect all groups, albeit to differing degrees. By questioning how certain intimate forms come to be defined as “normal” or “expected,” anthropologists can begin to comprehend the forces that link intimate life with larger collectivities such as the nation-state while also recognizing the creative ways that individuals work within those forces to create and satisfy a wide range of intimate desires. Notes Acknowledgments. The research on which this article is based was funded by the Committee for Scholarly Communica- tion with China, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropologi- cal Research, and a Lam Family Travel Grant from the Cornell 323 American Ethnologist I Volume 32 Number 2 May 2005 University East Asia Program. Earlier versions were presented at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University. For their helpful corn~ ments at these venues, I thank Brian Axel, Elizabeth Remick, Siumi Maria Tam, Rob Weller, and Honming Yip. Gardner Bovingdon, John Bowen, Susan Brownell. Rob Culp, Stevan Harrell, Smita Lahiri, Rebecca Lester, Beth Povinelli. and Li Zhang provided valuable suggestions on more recent drafts, as did the anonymous AE reviewers and AE editor Virginia Dominguez. As always, I re- main responsible for any omissions or errors. In China, the support of my advisors and colleagues at Xiamen University made this proj— ect possible. My biggest debt is to the residents of Shanlin who graciously and generously welcomed me into their homes and lives. 1. This linkage also included women’s elaborate dress and adornment styles, which were seen as the physical embodiment of their oppression. For more on the role of sartorial reforms in creating liberated socialist subjects, see Friedman 2004. 2. Jessica Benjamin is ultimately concerned with how this mutual recognition of subject—subject is all-too—readily trans- formed into a subject—other relationship of domination and submission. Whereas she draws on feminism to critique this tendency in psychoanalysis, Anthony Giddens appeals to the emancipatory power of democracy as the source of egalitarian transformations in intimate life. 3. Space constraints prevent me from going into great detail here, but Maoist reformers clearly sought to shift the focus of women’s intimate attachments from same-sex networks to hus- bands. Reformers criticized same—sex peers for using ridicule to undermine conjugal intimacy and attacked them as the inspira- tion for collective female suicides in the region. For a more detailed discussion, see Friedman in press. 4. My approach to this apparent contradiction in the efficacy of state efforts to transform intimate life has been influenced by Tania Li’s analysis of Indonesian development schemes. In argu- ing for a distinction between “the project of rule" as an idealized vision of the state and the relationships, discourses, and practices through which rule is (or is not) actually accomplished, Li cautions against "overestimatlingj the capacity of ‘the state' to fashion or present itself in its chosen terms and to implement the projects that are designed to embed relations of rule” (1999:315). 5. Similar marriage practices and all-female networks were also found among Han women in the Pearl River Delta region of southern Guangdong through the early 20th century (Sankar 197B; Siu 1990; So 1986; Stockard 1989; Topley 1975). Economic decline in the delta and its invasion by Japanese forces in the late 19305 led to a waning of such marriage practices by midcentury. To date, I have not found any sources that document for the delta the kinds of marital reform campaigns carried out in eastern Hui’an after the communists came to power. 6. Shanlin is a pseudonym for the village where I conducted research for 18 months in 1995—97, and again in the summers of 1998, 2000, and 2002. All personal names used in this article are also pseudonyms. 7. Chinese communists were exposed to Morgan’s ideas through Friedrich Engels’s work The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1972). Much of Engels's book draws directly from Karl Marx‘s notes on Morgan's treatise Ancient Society (1964). 8. This section is based on interviews with Shanlin residents who participated in the campaign and on the documentary record left by outside work teams sent down to the community to implement the movement. See, in particular, Woman-Work 1966. 9. A particularly trenchant critique of collectivization policies and their detrimental impact on marital reforms can be found in a 324 1959 letter from a brigade youth to the Hui’an County Women's Federation ([Lin Bin] Youth 1959). 10. Susan Gal and Gail Kligman’s comments on the connections between political discourse and identity in socialist societies are worth quoting at length, for they affirm the tenuousness of state efforts to shape citizens as particular kinds of subjects. Gal and Kligman contend that there is no automatic link between subjectivities created out of the patterns and practices of everyday life on the one hand and the identity categories evident in the discourses of political movements and state agencies on the other. Political discourse succeeds in mobilizing people only when they recognize themselves as its addressees. Such recognitions must be actively created, and when successfully done, their construction is later effectively obscured. [2000:117] 11. Between 1949 and 1966, the average marriage age in Shanlin hovered closely around the legal stande of 18 for women and 20 for men, more likely a result of poverty than of effective govem- ment enforcement (see also Diamant 2001:462). Women‘s average age at marriage dropped slightly during the Cultural Revolution decade (1966—76), and in the 19805, it fell to an all-time low of 16.8 years. Scholars working in communities across China have documented a similar incidence of underage marriage in the 1980s, attributing it to economic prosperity, village endogamy, and the impact of the family responsibility system (Davis and Harrell 1993210; Greenhalgh 1993:233—235; Selden 1993:159-160; Yan 1997; Zheng 1995:133—134). 12. These figures come from interviews and a survey I con- ducted during my fieldwork in Shanlin from 1995 to 1997 and on follow-up visits. The marriages I documented involve women who were born in Shanlin as well as those who married into the community from other villages in eastern Hui’an. The incom- pleteness of the percentages I cite here derives from my inability to confirm the outcome of all marriages that took place during this period. The tendency for most women to shift residence sometime between four and nine years after their wedding was consistent with my findings from earlier periods. 13. Shanlin residents speak a version of Minnan dialect, the language used in southeastern Fujian Province and in Taiwan. I have romanized Minnan terms in accordance with the PRC system for standard Minnan dialect as found in the Putanghua Minnan fangyan zidian (Xiamen University 1982). Unless otherwise noted, all other terms are in Mandarin, China’s official national language. 14. Village practice required that the initiator of the divorce compensate the other party. In 1995—97, compensation ranged from 5,000 yuan to as much as 15,000 yuan (approx. $600 to $1,800), a considerable sum for A Ping’s natal family, who de- pended largely on her father’s earnings from fishing. 15. In his analysis of emotion discourse in a north China village, Yunxiang Yan (2003:73—75) also describes a growing consensus in the 19903 concerning the role of “having a lot to talk about” (youhuashuo) as an indicator of intimacy and compatibility in heterosexual relationships. 16. By the 19905, young people’s romantic ideals were influ- enced by a rapidly expanding array of popular media forms. Movies shown in the village theater or available on compact disc often depicted romantic encounters; Titanic (1997) was a favorite among A Ping's cohort. Popular singers crooned sentimental lyrics in Mandarin and Minnan languages, conveying themes of emo- tional fulfillment and self-realization long denied under the col- lective focus of state socialism (Gold 1993; Yang 1997). A daily music video hour broadcast on township television and videos shown in karaoke parlors or private homes provided young people with visual models for themes of love and heartbreak (see Abu- Lughod 1986:258). 17. In the traditional Chinese age-reckoning system (xusui), a child is considered one year old at birth and gains another year at each lunar New Year. By contrast, the zhousui system calculates age according to the child's precise birth date, and the child turns one only a year after its birth. 18. After marriage registration procedures were implemented in the early 19505, taking the photograph often produced high levels of anxiety, for in many cases this was the first time that the couple had seen one another in person. Although propaganda folk songs urged young couples to bravely step forward to have their photos taken, older villagers recalled that brides had to be coaxed into such intimate contact, and many women dashed off as soon as the session ended. In an article written not long after nationwide marital registration began, Dutch legal scholar M. H. Van der Valk pessimistically concluded, f‘It may well be that for the time being the Procedure for the Registration of Marriages will largely remain an ideal to strive for, a goal that can be reached only after a period of intense propaganda, admonition and education" (1957:353). His pessimism appears warranted when one considers that the government found it necessary to reissue similar procedures as recently as 1994 (see Fazhi Ribao 1994). 19. My discussion of private and public intimacy is inspired by Berlant's analysis of the “intimate public" in the contemporary United States. According to her, “the intimate public sphere of the US. present tense renders citizenship as a condition of social membership produced by personal acts and values, especially acts originating in or directed toward the family sphere” (Berlant 1997:5). Berlant is concerned with how an active public sphere and national politics have been eviscerated by conservatives’ reinvigoration of a core nation defined by traditional white, heterosexual concepts of home and family. My attention to public intimacy highlights a similar kind of contradiction, whereby the personal nature of conjugal intimacy is interwoven with state goals that might appear less overt but are, in fact, no less coercive. 20. In addition to relations among teenagers, this category of nonmarital relationships included those involving divorcees. Young people who had married and divorced before reaching the legal age were now forced to wait before they could remarry, even if they had already found a new partner. If a divorce had not been officially registered with the village government, then family planning officials would continue to monitor a divorced woman’s fertility. 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Friedman Department of Anthropology Indiana University Student Building 130 Bloomington, IN 47405 [email protected] 327 ...
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