By Aihwa Ong

ISBN-10: 0520229983

ISBN-13: 9780520229983

ISBN-10: 0520238249

ISBN-13: 9780520238244

ISBN-10: 1417522798

ISBN-13: 9781417522798

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Extra info for Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (Public Anthropology, 5)

Example text

In many cases, he knew, men who were traveling without their urban families disguised their married status and, if they were posted in the countryside, took another wife. Peasant girls were often tricked this way because of their strong desire to marry rich men or men who drew a regular salary, such as teachers and soldiers. Another Cambodian informant estimated that about three out of ten rich men had secondary wives. These women did not have the same rights as the first wife, who controlled her husband’s income and whose children inherited his property.

For instance, administrative practices directed at Cambodian refugees were often animated by the goal of cleansing the perceived elements of “Asian patriarchy” or primitivity. Social workers considered refugee women and children to be less tarnished by this racializing stigma, and thus more desirable citizen-subjects. While refugee men were 14 introduction marginalized, refugee women became at once more dependent on systems of female clientship and subject to lessons in personal autonomy. The biopolitics of welfarism, combined with feminist defense of the poor Asian woman, created whitening processes such as marrying a white man that allowed the war refugee to achieve the status of a “postcrisis” subject and a good enough citizen.

The neoliberal discourse that increasingly defines citizenship in economic terms, by insisting that citizenship is the civic duty of individuals to reduce their burden on society and to build up their human capital,54 becomes a vital supplement to the classic liberal rights-based definition of citizenship. As we shall see, racial classificatory logic has placed poor Asian immigrants such as Cambodian refugees at the black pole: they are identified with inner-city African Americans and set off clearly not only from whites, but also from other Asian groups such as Vietnamese and Chinese Americans.

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Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (Public Anthropology, 5) by Aihwa Ong

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