Childhood disability and parental moral responsibility in northern Vietnam: Towards ethnographies of intercorporeality

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This article explores the roles played by parents living in Hanoi, Vietnam, in shaping the subjectivities of children who are categorized as physically or intellectually impaired. In an effort to comprehend disability in terms of an active and embodied engagement with the world, I employ a phenomenologically inspired 'intercorporeal' perspective as a conceptual alternative to 'medical' and 'social' models of disability. Through this approach I show how, in northern Vietnam, disability in children brings into question the moral integrity of their parents and how this compels parents to define their children's subjectivities in ways that diminish their personhood. The analysis identifies Buddhist notions of karma, everyday ethics of reciprocity, and party-state discourses of productivity as particularly important forces structuring such social responses to human impairment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)825-842
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2008

ID: 9353442