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Categories and ContextsAnthropological and Historical Studies in Critical Demography$
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Simon Szreter, Hania Sholkamy, and A. Dharmalingam

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199270576

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0199270570.001.0001

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Making up China's ‘Black Population’

Making up China's ‘Black Population’

(p.148) 8 Making up China's ‘Black Population’
Categories and Contexts

Susan Greenhalgh

Oxford University Press

State‐created, bureaucratically elaborated social categories are so normalized a feature of modern life that we usually ignore them—at our peril. Shows how the bureaucratic categories of state programmes often work to ‘make up’ persons, in Ian Hacking's felicitous phrase, who then come to fit their categories. Focusing on China, home to the world's largest population, it shows how, through the deployment of its central category, the planned/unplanned birth, China's programme of state birth planning, designed to modernize the populace, inadvertently created a huge ‘black population’ of persons deprived of the benefits of citizenship and modern life. The China material shows how state categorizing practices quietly participate in the construction of social reality by producing new forms of personhood, new kinds of politics, and new lines of social and political exclusion.

Keywords:   bureaucracy, China, modernity, personhood, population discourse, social categories, socialist thought, state programmes

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