Figures of transversality: State power and prenatal screening in contemporary Vietnam

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In this article, I explore how prenatal screening is imbricated within state agendas, aspirations, and imaginings in contemporary Vietnam. In an effort to develop new ethnographic tropes for understanding the formation called "the state," I argue for a phenomenological take that emphasizes its affective and embodied aspects. Seeing the anomalous fetus as a "figure of transversality," as a critical focus for powerful imaginings and desires, I show how state–society relations in Vietnam are suffused by visceral affectivity and moral engagement. In the realm of reproduction, intense sentiments of anxiety, dread, desire, ambition, and hope tie together the state and its citizens, animating individual aspirations as well as national population policies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)570-587
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2008

ID: 9353463