Toward an Anthropology of Belonging
This concluding chapter summarizes the key arguments made across the book, proposing that by framing reproductive decision making as a matter of belonging rather than freedom, new understandings of human lives, aspirations, and interconnections can be attained. The chapter sketches the systems of subjectivation within which people in Hanoi defined themselves as certain kinds of persons, and it examines the strivings for belonging that were expressed in day-to-day lives—strivings that intensified in situations of reproductive crisis. Finally, the chapter attends to the shadow side of belonging, which is repressed and excluded in both state discourses and everyday lives. Belonging is enacted, the chapter suggests, in the presence of ghosts; specters of social figures that have been lost or set aside continue to hover, haunting and troubling people. In short, this chapter considers belonging as state discourse, belonging as social practice, and belonging as loss, thereby suggesting three central analytical avenues along which an anthropology of belonging may proceed.
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