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  • Author or Editor: Han Tao x
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This chapter explores queer reproductive choices within the evolving landscape of kinship conventions and moral personhood in urban China. The analysis commences by examining the motivations and timing behind the decisions of individuals from diverse age groups and backgrounds to either have children or remain childless. The chapter advocates for a re-evaluation of the symbolic significance of children in the context of reproductive studies. It proceeds to document the existing practices surrounding parenthood among Chinese non-heterosexual individuals and couples, shedding light on the moral dilemmas that often arise. These practices encompass various methods, including having children from prior zhihun (heterosexual) marriages, xinghun (contract) marriages, guoji adoptions (primarily from relatives), and the utilization of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). The chapter further delves into the evolving moral discourses within queer communities, assessing how these communities evaluate pathways to parenthood.

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The introductory chapter sets the stage by presenting the socio-cultural and legal backdrop against which queer intimate relationships and familial life unfold in Chinese society. In general, Chinese state policies and the patrilineal kinship system create a challenging environment for alternative life choices and non-conventional family structures. Consequently, Chinese non-heterosexual individuals are rarely seen as capable of establishing enduring relationships or forming families without having to forgo their queer identities. This results in queer parents remaining largely invisible to the public eye, with limited social research conducted on their practices. This chapter outlines the theoretical framework and the primary arguments that underpin the book. Drawing on new kinship studies and queer theory, as well as insights from prior queer ethnography, this work seeks to contribute to fresh insights into Chinese queer life, assisted reproduction, and kinship.

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This chapter discusses queer intimate relationships within the shifting landscapes of role terms, love, dating culture, and modernity. It explores the evolving attitudes of non-heterosexual individuals towards same-sex relationships and the dynamic mobilization of seemingly gendered relationship modes. Investigating the strategies employed by queer couples to sustain cohabitating romantic relationships in a societal context where same-sex marriage is not yet recognized, the chapter highlights the centrality of creating an unbreakable concept of jiban/mutuality, a theme developed throughout the book. Drawing from detailed life histories, this chapter uncovers how economic capital and legal constraints shape queer subjects’ perceptions and practices of intimate love in urban China. It underscores how the economic and migrant-driven environments of Shenzhen and Guangzhou influence career and romantic opportunities, revealing the material foundations of loving relationships in the lives of Chinese queer individuals.

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This chapter delineates how queer parents in Guangdong use their understanding and language of blood kin, biology, and parental love to distinguish between ‘my children’, ‘my partner’s children’, and ‘our children’. Through an examination of how these distinctions are integrated into their social spheres, it uncovers the intricate process of demarcating boundaries between blood relatives and queer kin. The cases of single queer parents and queer couples having children together amplify their understanding of blood ties and children’s position in sustaining conjugal love and a protected future. The chapter also delves into how expressions of parental love are closely intertwined with their socio-economic resources. It has found that the idea of blood and biology still holds its centrality in Chinese family life, while it has also been proved to have elastic potentialities for queer couples who desire joint parenthood.

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This chapter delves into the intersection of queer reproductive justice and the emerging assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) market in urban China, which has come to be regarded as an ideal means for queer individuals, particularly queer couples, to have children. The chapter explores the differential perspectives on the legal and moral debates arising from the involvement of queer parents in assisted reproduction, as revealed through an analysis of legal documents, online discourse, and field observations. It elucidates how ART companies and the queer organizations affiliated with them collaboratively influence the perception and practice of ART within queer communities. By presenting intricate personal accounts of how queer individuals navigate reproductive decisions and consumer choices when availing themselves of high-tech medical services, the chapter underscores the profound ‘queering’ of reproduction and the stratified reproduction that predominantly benefits middle- to upper-class queer residents in major urban centres like Shenzhen.

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Non-heterosexual Couples, Parents, and Families in Guangdong, China
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Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Guangdong, China, this book asks: what does it mean for Chinese non-heterosexual people to go against existing state regulations and societal norms to form a desirable and legible queer family?

Chapters explore the various tactics queer people employ to have children and to form queer or ‘rainbow’ families. The book unpacks people’s experiences of cultivating, or losing, kinship relations through their negotiation with biological relatives, cultural conventions and state legislations. Through its analysis, the book offers a new ethnographic perspective for queer studies and anthropology of kinship.

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This chapter focuses on the changing understanding of family in urban China in the context of social changes, migration, and queer politics. It investigates the concept of ‘jia’ (family/home) for Chinese non-heterosexual people through its cultural and socio-legal meanings. This chapter unfolds the various modalities of the non-heterosexual family. By capturing the emerging family-forming practices and the image of the role-model rainbow family promoted in queer communities, it stresses the dynamic interplay of socio-economic class, state law, and moral values that come to articulate queer families and relatedness in today’s queer everyday lives. It further explores how these queer family structures fluctuate between visibility and obscurity in distinct temporal and spatial contexts, thereby complicating conventional dichotomies such as assimilation versus resistance, visibility versus invisibility, and modernity versus tradition in everyday existence.

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This chapter elucidates the research methods and charts the progression throughout the ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Shenzhen and other urban areas of Guangdong, China from 2018 to 2021. It thoroughly addresses the methodological and ethical challenges encountered, along with strategies employed, encompassing participant recruitment and the delicate dynamics between researcher and subjects. This research seamlessly integrates participant observation and semi-structured interviews to provide a comprehensive understanding of everyday practices. Furthermore, the chapter delves into the intersection of the researcher’s personal background, multiple roles, and queer perspectives within the home field. It emphasizes a commitment to both the ethical principles of ethnographic research and the ethics of friendship. This chapter offers a timely ‘recipe’ for doing fieldwork in sensitive settings and contributes to the evolving discourse on innovative methodologies in social research, particularly within the realm of ‘queering’ research practices.

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This chapter comes back to summarize the themes of this work, which are queer intimate love, queer reproduction and parenting, queer family, and queer futurity. The practices of queer conjugal relationships, parenting, and family formation documented in this book suggest innovative and diverse forms of belonging, family, and relatedness beyond blood ties and the heterosexual nuclear family; at the same time, class stratification and gender inequalities are often reproduced during these processes. Queer relationships and families have emerged both within and outside the dominant kinship norms co-constructed by the existing state policy and patrilineal familism. Consequently, this book proposes an approach to comprehending queer families and relationships that challenges the dominant discourse surrounding Chinese kinship and queer modernity. It makes it clear that the ‘queering’ of kinship extends beyond the realm of non-normative sexual desires and permeates various aspects of society at large.

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