Making MSM: Biopolitical subjects in Vietnam

This contribution explores the discursive and practical marking of gay males as targets of a biopolitical regime whose aim, ostensibly, was and is to secure the health and well-being of the Vietnamese population. I consider how the contemporary apparat…

Making things fungible

This essay draws on Aihwa Ong’s conception of “fungible life,” applying it to the practice of stockpiling essential goods. It argues that stockpiling is not just a matter of gathering and storing troves of supplies, but is linked to a broader style of …

Neoliberal globalization, the punitive, and the pastoral

In this contribution I draw on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Malaysia and provide an overview of the punitive trends in legal spheres and more encompassing cultural-political domains that typically accompany neoliberal globalization. I also consi…

The future is family

Future visions energize growing enterprises, states, and families to act. Together, these entwined processes and their conflicts open unpredictable avenues for both profit-making and social transformation. This was a key insight of Aihwa Ong’s classic …

Sustainability enclaves in Southeast Asia

Resource regimes in postsocialist Laos have been dominated by foreign actors in ways that frequently dovetail with the prerogatives of multilateral investment and the work of nongovernmental development organizations. A common theme among these diverse…

Global anthropology and the art of the middle range

Over the past forty years, Aihwa Ong has invented a remarkable collection of powerful concepts, delivered in compact and vivid terms, that have become essential instruments of a global anthropology. These concepts—which she crafted in response to anthr…

Asia as strategy: Deployments of a Chinese planet

This contribution reflects on Aihwa Ong’s thoughts on the global and her later work with Asian scientists to look at recent Chinese state approaches to climate change. Departing from popular accounts that pose China as either an engine of climate catas…

Towards a “contrapuntal” anthropology of the global

This essay explores the paradox of how Aihwa Ong’s classic work on Chineseness managed to remain in but not of China. Identifying the central importance of Edward Said’s notion of “contrapuntal analysis” to Ong’s approach to both Chineseness and modern…