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Centre for Gender Studies

Biye Gao

BA in Philosophy (Nankai University, China), MA in Marxist Philosophy (Renmin University, China)

Overview

Biye Gao
Name:
Biye Gao
Email address:
Thesis title:
The politics of reproduction in contemporary rural China
Internal Supervisors

Biography

This study endeavors to investigate cadres, doctors, and young women including unmarried women and mothers, married women and mothers' sexual and reproductive experience and seek to map out their victimized agencies in coercive and oppressive context.

PhD Research

My PhD study endeavors to investigate cadres, doctors, and young women including unmarried women and mothers, married women and mothers' sexual and reproductive experience and seek to map out their victimized agencies in coercive and oppressive context.

In international development and population policies, reproductive rights have become a standard discourse in the articulation of providing couples reproductive freedom. However, this concept needs to be reexamined to analyse reproductive politics in China, not only in terms of its inherent unbounded individualism, but also its inclination to envision Chinese women as victims under the coercive reproductive politics. Therefore, it proposes that the discourse of reproductive rights be transferred into reproductive agency. Through drawing upon poststructural feminism, especially Butler‘s account of agency, it endeavours to reveal how the reproductive agency is exercised by appropriating existing regulatory and ideological norms. Moreover, it suggests that the exercise of agency itself is actually accompanied by victimization. Hence, in coercive and ideological reproductive context, women exist as ―victimized agents. That said, women are believed to be agents on the whole, though their victimhood should not be neglected either.

The existing literature on the birth planning policy in China is mostly quantitative. As to qualitative research, the literature on cadres and doctors is mostly oriented towards their work experience and regards them as a part of state apparatus, without mapping out the tension between victimization and agency in their work and personal lives. With regards to women‘s lived reproductive experience, dominant literature is focused on older women who were in their reproductive age during 1980 and 1990s, while younger women‘s sexual and reproductive experiences are largely absent. However, young generation‘s experiences are crucial to understand the reproductive politics in contemporary rural China, which is intersected by the political power, culture, tradition, ethics, gender relation, kinship, marriage and migration.

I will base my empirical research on the villages Leijiapu and Mojiapu, and the town Shibantan near Changde city, Hunan province, which lies in the central part of China. Based on reproductive experiences of cadres, doctors, young women including unmarried women and mothers, married women and mothers, this thesis seeks to explore their victimized agencies in contemporary China.

In this dissertation, I am committed to feminism, sexual and reproductive health and agency, and seek to minimize the sexual and reproductive victimization of Chinese young women in reproductive politics through bringing about social and policy changes. This thesis, hopefully, will contribute to the empirical study on reproductive politics in contemporary China, conceptualization of agency in feminism and more ideally, to the international reproductive politics.