Four Members at IACS Conference, August 2015
By on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Paper proposals of six HERA-Single members have been accepted for the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society conference in August 2015, titled “Unearthing Hidden Social and Discursive Practices”.

From 7th to 9th August 2015 the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society held a conference titled “Unearthing Hidden Social and Discursive Practices” at Airlangga University in Surabaya, Indonesia. Four members of the HERA SINGLE team held a joint panel about “Single Desire? – On love, romance, gender and the city in China and India” and gave talks about their research.

Panel: Single Desire? – On love, romance, gender and the city in China and India

Panel Organizer:
Jeroen DE KLOET (University of Amsterdam)

Rapidly transforming urban centres such as Delhi and Shanghai are the backdrop to changing family patterns and the unravelling of ‘traditional’ social contracts as a result of migration, new work opportunities, delayed marriage, divorce, open homosexuality, and a growing leisure and consumer society. These cities are cultural contact zones, shaping and being shaped by global, regional and national flows. This panel zooms in on the precarity of the resulting urban female subjectivities, and the tactics mobilised to negotiate and contest asymmetrical power relations that are deeply entrenched in partriarchal, heteronormative and class discourses.


Jeroen DE KLOETBeing Single in Shanghai and Delhi – Questioning the Emergence of “New” Asian Femininities

Single women have become a topic of societal concern in both China and India, a concern that reinforces hegemonic patriarchal and heteronormative discourses. This paper explores how women’s use of urban space helps to negotiate these hegemonic discourses. Our analysis traces the inevitable shift in subjectivity under conditions of neoliberal economics (reflexive, autonomous, modern, individual versus traditional, collective, family oriented). We mobilize the tropes of ‘respectability’, ‘autonomy’ and ‘precarity,’ to grasp the balancing taking place between the demands of the ‘global city’ and the imposed need for the body of the woman to maintain notions of ‘tradition.’

Yiu Fai CHOWCaring in the time of precarity: A study of single women in the creative class of Shanghai

We are experiencing two peculiar moments in urban history. First, increasingly more people do not subscribe to ‘traditional’ forms of living; they go solo, despite stigmatization and discrimination. Second, increasingly more people join the creative workforce, often at the expense of job security. Straddling on this precarious conjuncture, this paper focuses on one group of urban ‘precariats’: single women in Shanghai with creative (self-)employment. It presents findings of a pilot study on their everyday life, their struggles and pleasures, ultimately to offer some insights for the question: how (far) can one take care of oneself in the time of precarity.

Chenying PIIt is Not Just About Getting Married: Inventing the Desiring Self in Love Club

Besides the well-established matchmaking agencies, websites and television programs, private training and consulting services are burgeoning in big cities in China, offering economically well-off yet emotionally troubled individuals various instructions on how to date, love or hook up. Drawing on participant observation and interviews in Shanghai-based Love Club, a three-month training course on how to develop romantic relationship, this paper investigates how young single women construct narratives of the self—through articulating their confusions, identifying their problems in men-women relations and showing transformations of the self—amid multilayered pressures to marry and achieve in a highly competitive metropolis like Shanghai.

Penn IPAn Affective “Home”: Singlehood, Migrant Women and Workers Dormitory in Shanghai

Shanghai’s population comprises more than 3 million rural-urban migrant women. They are part of the “floating population” – rural-migrants without hukou (“household registration”) in their urban destinations. Although working in the cities, urban policy, including the hukou system, does not welcome their permanent presence. How is it possible for migrant women to create a sense of “home” in Shanghai under such conditions of precarity and uncertainty? Based on my fieldwork among young migrant women in Shanghai, I analyze how they affectively negotiate the city, in particular, by feeling and creating a sense of “home” in the restaurants’ workers dormitory.


For more information about the conference, visit:

Homepage of the IACS conference 2015 (external link)