Cultural Studies Adjunct: Sara Friedman
My research focuses on the relationship between political processes and social and cultural change in China and Taiwan, with particular attention to marginalized groups within both societies. In my book, Intimate Politics, I explore how different state regimes in China have sought to transform intimate life through intervening in gender relations, marriage and labor practices, and forms of bodily adornment. The book focuses on one county in southeastern China where contests over intimate life were quite pronounced during the height of state socialism and where the legacies of such contests continue even today. I examine how ethnic hierarchies, concepts of socialist civilization, and media images have informed definitions of acceptable cultural practice in socialist and late-socialist China, and ask how these definitions have influenced the intimate practices of various generations of women and men living in this area.
More recently, I have begun a project that examines how our conceptions of citizenship are changing as people and capital flow in ever-increasing numbers across national borders. This project seeks to better understand the highly contested nature of citizenship, national identity, and national sovereignty in the relationship between China and Taiwan. It involves multi-sited ethnography focused on two main groups: women from China who have married Taiwanese men and now reside in Taiwan, and Taiwanese families who have relocated to China for business reasons. By working with people who are moving back and forth across the Taiwan Straits, I explore changes in both the discourses and practices of citizenship in the region, particularly as they pertain to gender and kinship identities