- Citizenshiptopic page
- Governance and Sovereignty
- Science and Technologytopic page
- Contemporary Asian Art
Aihwa Ong is Professor in Anthropology Amerita at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a member of the Science Council of the International Panel on Social Progress.
Recently, she was invited to be the 2020 SSRC Research Council Fellow Her lecture is entitled "Cloned Monkeys & Gene-edited Babies: Productive Uncertainty in China's Biosecurity."
Ong's study of flows and their ensuing entanglements tends to unsettle stabilized viewpoints and units of analysis in the social sciences. Her inquiry explores how assemblages of technology, politics and cultures crystallize emerging contexts of globality. She has published on a range of subjects: female labor in runaway factories; Asian immigrants in the United States; neoliberal norms in China; and Asian mega cities. More recently, she studies how Asian life science projects, and Chinese experimental art, respectively, mediate and transform global flows. She has lectured internationally and been invited to the World Economic Forum. Her awards include grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the National Science Foundation, and some book prizes.
Ong is the author of five works: Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life (2016); Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty (2006); Buddha is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, the New America (2003);Flexible Citizenship: the Cultural Logics of Transnationality (1999), an academic bestseller; and Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia (1986), widely recognized as a classic ethnography of global labor.
She is also the co-editor of Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics and Ethics as Anthropological Problems (2005, coeditor Stephen J. Collier). Other co-edited works include Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global (2011); Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate (2010); Privatizing China: Socialism from Afar (2008); and Ungrounded Empires: the Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Transnationalism (1997). Her writings are translated into European and Asian languages.
Fungible Life: Uncertainty in the Asian City of Life (Duke University Press, 2016)
Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate. (co-editor Nancy Chen), Durham: Duke University Press, 2010
Worlding Cities, or the Art of Being Global (co-editor, Ananya Roy), London: Routledge, 2011
2023 An Anthropologist at Davos "Civilization Reimagined from the Top of the World"
2022 "Buoyancy: Blue Territorialization of Chinese Power," in Voluminous States, edited by Franck Bille. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 191-203
2022 “Citizenship: Flexible, Fungible, and Fragile,” Citizenship Studies, June 2022
2017 "Buoy." Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropolog website, October 24, 2017.
2015 "Why Singapore Trumps Iceland: Gathering Genes in the Wild," Journal of Cultural Economy, vol. 8, no. 3.
2013 A Milieu of Mutations: The Pluripotency and Fungibility of Life in Asia, *East Asian Science, Technology and Society* (2013) 7:1–18
2012 Powers of Sovereignty: State, People, Wealth, Life, in *Focaal, Journal of Global & Historical Anthropology*. 62 (2012): 24-35
2012 What Marco Polo Forgot: Asian Art Negotiates the Global, *Current Anthropology* Volume 53, Number 4, August 2012
2011 Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments or the Art of Being Global. Blackwell, 2011
2008 Privatizing China, Socialism from Afar. Cornell University Press (co-editor Li Zhang)
2008 “The Human and Ethical Living,” In Globalizing the Research Imagination, ed. Jane Kenway and Johannah Fahey, pp.87-100. London: Routledge
2006, “Neoliberalism as a Mobile Technology,” Transactions 31 (2006) 1-6
2006. “Please Stay: Pied-a-Terre Subjects in the Megacity,” Citizenship Studies Vol. 11, no. 1 (2007): 83-93.
2006. Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press.
2006. "Experiments with Freedom: Milieus of the Human." American Literary History (March 1, 2006).
2004. Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics and Ethics as Anthropological Problems (co-editor Stephen J. Collier). Malden, Ma. and Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
2004. "The Chinese Axis: Zoning Technologies and Variegated Sovereignty," Journal of East Asian Studies 4 (2004), 69-96.
2003. Buddha in Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship, and the New America (University of California Press, Public Anthropology Series). (Italian translation, 2005.)
2003. "Cyberpublics and Diaspora Politics among Transnational Chinese" Interventions 5(1):82-100.
2003. "Higher Learning: Educational Availability and Flexible Citizenship in Global Space" in Diversity and Citizenship Education, ed. James A. Banks, New York: J. Wiley, pp. 49-70.
2001. Modernity, Anthropological Aspects. In International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 15. N. J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes, eds. Pp. 9944-49. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Oxford: Pergamon.
2000. Graduated Sovereignty in Southeast Asia. Theory, Culture, and Society. 17(4):55-75.
1999. Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality. Durham: Duke University Press. Honorable Mention, Senior Prize, American Ethnological Association (2000) and Cultural Studies Book Award, Association for Asian American Studies (2001). (German translation, 2004.)
1999. "Muslim Feminists in the Shelter of Corporate Islam," Citizenship Studies Vol. 3, no. 3:355-71.
1997. Ungrounded Empires: The Cultural Politics of Modern Chinese Transnationalism (co-edited with Donald Nonini). New York: Routledge.
1995. Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia. Michael Peletz (co-editor). Berkeley: University of California Press.
1987. Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia. Albany: State University of New York Press.
In Fungible Life Aihwa Ong explores the dynamic world of cutting-edge bioscience research, offering critical insights into the complex ways Asian bioscientific worlds and cosmopolitan sciences are entangled in a tropical environment brimming with the threat of emergent diseases.
Worlding Cities is the first serious examination of Asian urbanism to highlight the connections between different Asian models and practices of urbanization.
Providing the first overview of Asia’s emerging biosciences landscape, this timely and important collection brings together ethnographic case studies on biotech endeavors such as genetically modified foods in China, clinical trials in India, blood collection in Singapore and China, and stem-cell research in Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Privatizing China, Socialism from Afar
Everyday life in China is increasingly shaped by a novel mix of neoliberal and socialist elements, of individual choices and state objectives. This combination of self-determination and socialism from afar has incited profound changes in the ways individuals think and act in different spheres of society.
Neoliberalism is commonly viewed as an economic doctrine that seeks to limit the scope of government. Some consider it a form of predatory capitalism with adverse effects on the Global South.
Provides an exciting approach to some of the most contentious issues in discussions around globalization—bioscientific research, neoliberalism, governance—from the perspective of the "anthropological" problems they pose
Fleeing the murderous Pol Pot regime, Cambodian refugees arrive in America as at once the victims and the heroes of America's misadventures in Southeast Asia; their encounters with American citizenship are contradictory as well.
Few recent phenomena have proved as emblematic of our era, and as little understood, as globalization. Are nation-states being transformed by globalization into a single globalized economy? Do global cultural forces herald a postnational millennium?
This impressive array of essays considers the contingent and shifting meanings of gender and the body in contemporary Southeast Asia. By analyzing femininity and masculinity as fluid processes rather than social or biological givens, the authors provide new ways of understanding how gender intersects with local, national, and transnational forms of knowledge and power.
Why are Malay women workers periodically seized by spirit possession on the shopfloors of modern factories? In this book, Aihwa Ong captures the disruptions, conflicts, and ambivalences in the lives of Malay women and their families as they make the transition from peasant society to industrial production.