Friday, February 26, 2016

Upcoming Seminars by Prof. Tamara Jacka

Translocal peasant family reproduction and agrarian change in China: toward an analytical framework

Speaker: Tamara Jacka (Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University) 
Date: 9 March 2016 (Wed) 
Time: 10:30am-11:45am 
Venue: Room 422, Sino Building, CUHK

Since the 1980s, peasant families in China, as elsewhere in developing Asia, have been engaging in translocal economic activities, with some members migrating out of the village in search of employment in urban industry and services, while others maintain a small landholding, undertake domestic work, and care for dependants. Scholars sometimes note that these translocal strategies have advantages for the reproduction of both peasant families and capital. Beyond these brief mentions, however, there has been strikingly little attention to social reproduction in the literature on agrarian change in China, or indeed elsewhere in Asia. This paper seeks to address this lacuna, advancing an analytical framework for understanding agrarian change, which centres on social reproduction, specifically translocal peasant family reproduction. The framework highlights, in particular, the connections between peasant families’ changing aspirations for reproduction and the fluid, translocal strategies they adopt to meet those aspirations; changing patterns of reproductive work, especially care-work; and shifting social relations and patterns of social differentiation, both between peasant families and within them. In developing this new framework, the paper refers to a village case study in central China, and draws on a critique of the existing ‘livelihoods perspective,’ and approaches focusing on ‘global householding,’ and class reproduction and the pursuit of ‘distinction'.

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Improving women’s substantive representation: A comparison of theoretic determinants and empirical evidence from Chinese villages

Speaker: Tamara Jacka (Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University) 
Date: 10 March 2016 (Wed) 
Time: 10:30am-12:30pm 
Venue: Lecture Theatre B5, Ho Tim Building, CUHK

Feminist scholars have recently questioned the premise that women ‘naturally’ best represent women politically. Nevertheless, that premise continues to inform efforts to increase women’s descriptive political representation in order to ensure that women’s views and needs are substantively reflected in governance. For example, China, an authoritarian state where, however, village elections and ‘self-government’ are enshrined in law, has sought to increase women’s representation in rural government through affirmative actions, including mentoring, quotas, and reserved seats for women on village committees. These recent efforts to boost the descriptive representation of women (DRW) may have distracted attention from other cultural, political and economic institutions and practices that also might affect the substantive representation of women (SRW). Indeed, it is possible that some affirmative actions aimed at increasing DRW might be less effective in improving SRW than other practices, and might even adversely affect SRW. This article theoretically compares factors that have the potential to affect DRW and SRW, and empirically investigates which of these are conducive to SRW in Chinese village governance. Specifically, we compare eight villages to investigate whether SRW is most improved by institutions and practices hinging on gender differentiation (gender differentiated roles and gender affirmative actions) or by other political or economic factors (democratic procedures and fiscal institutions). Across these case studies, we find that the institutionalisation of democracy, along with village wealth and the nature of the production regime, are more important determinants of SRW than are gender differentiation or affirmative actions.

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