A Hospital for Our Kind of People: Segregated Inclusion and Reproductive Citizenship of Internal Migrants in Shanghai

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 19:30
Oral Presentation
Jialin LI, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
This article takes up a critical reading to two bodies of literature. The first critique is of the concept biological citizenship. Most scholarly discussions situate biological citizenship in a modern democratic political environment where the biological citizenship connotates some power to act, to represent, and to be recognized. It ignores the situations where people have little space to achieve it or make a claim for it. The second critique is of the scholarly discussion of rural-urban migrant labors in China. A dominant perspective in the literature on China’s internal migrants focuses on the concept “farmer worker” (nongmin gong) who is working in the city but is deprived of basic welfare that only urban residents are entitled to due to the household registration (hukou). These discussion fails to give close attention to the reproductive labor of the large number of female migrants. By focusing on the birthing experience of a group of rural-urban migrant women in a government subsidized maternity hospital, I demonstrate that the unresolvable tension between large number of rural-urban migrants and the strict state policy offered the migrant women temporary access to their “biological citizenship”, but it nevertheless imposes a gendered burden on rural-urban migrant women’s reproductive bodies and uncertainty on their reproductive experience. Their experience can described as “segregated inclusion” meaning that rural-urban migrant women are included by the government subsidized childbirth services but nevertheless are treated in a segregated manner that is deeply influenced by dominant urban culture.