Borders of Being

Citizenship, Fertility, and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Margaret Jolly and Kalpana Ram, Editors
Explores the intermingling of women's bodies and nations' boundaries


Many have written about the way in which a "family romance" connects embodied daily life with the imagined community of the nation, and naturalizes the nation so that it appears not as a novel, fragile contingent creation, but as something ancient, robust and real. This book goes beyond such metaphoric associations of families and nations by looking at the central significance of planning families to promoting state development. It also considers the way that state power is accommodated and resisted, complicit with and contested by other powers grounded in relations of kinship, ethnicity, religion, and class.

Through an exploration of richly varied national histories, the authors highlight the common recurring intimacies between marking the borders of states and remolding the bodies of women as reproductive citizens. The tensions between past and present, between local, national and international concerns, and between men and women's interests in reproduction are all graphically revealed.

Surveying the relationship between the emerging models of citizenship and state population projects in several Asian states—India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and the Pacific states of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu—Borders of Being will attract readers in the several disciplines of anthropology, demography, and history as well as the cross disciplinary fields of gender and development studies.

Margaret Jolly is Professor and Convenor of the Gender Relations Project, Australian National University.

Kalpana Ram is Research Fellow, Australian Research Council, Macquarie University.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . stakes out important terrain for discussion, and demonstrates the value of studying population and fertility in more complicated and ethnographically rich ways."
    ---Mary Beth Mills, Colby College, Journal of Asian Studies, Volume 61: No. 2 (May 2002)
  • "This book makes an important contribution to our knowledge by analyzing citizenship over time through a sex/gender lens. . . . This volume creatively bridges the work on gendering citizenship and on fertility control in Asia and the Pacific, shedding much-needed light on citizenship through a sex/gender lens. It leads us to travel through China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. Each chapter is clearly written and, taken as a whole, thematically compatible while offering a range of approaches from ethnographic to historical and textual analysis. Borders of Being will be of great interest to those teaching courses on nationalism, citizenship, reproduction, and sex/gender."
    ---Journal of the History of Sexuality
  • "The editors of this provocatively titled, cutting-edge volume draw attention to some fascinating links between the borders of persons and the borders of countries, the creation of human life and the construction of nations. . . . By posing questions and finding some answers in two large corners of the world, the authors have greatly advanced the cultural and political understanding of critical yet poorly understood issues."
    ---S.G., Population and Development Review, Volume 27, No. 4 (2001)

Look Inside

Copyright © 2001, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted June 2001.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 344pp.
  • 4 drawings, 13 photographs, 4 tables, 3 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2001
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-09755-5

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  • $104.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2001
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06755-8

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  • $34.95 U.S.