Greenhalgh on China’s one-child policy
- March 1, 2007
- Anthropology professor’s research on population control in China contributes to national policy debates
What life circumstances lead people to anthropology? Graduating from college with
plans to study clinical psychology, Susan Greenhalgh embarked on a life-altering trip
to South Asia where early ethnographic experiences -- living in a Hindu village in
Nepal, watching street dwellers in Calcutta turn children into beggars -- challenged
basic assumptions, and cemented her decision to pursue a graduate degree in anthropology.
Shortly after completing her Ph.D. in anthropology and Chinese studies at Columbia, Greenhalgh accepted a position with the Population Council, a third world development think tank. Working as an anthropologist and policy analyst, she traveled frequently to China where she gained rare access to high-ranking scientists and officials involved in making the one-child policy. In her soon to be released book, Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng's China, Greenhalgh documents the extraordinary role played by a handful of Chinese missile scientists in the policy's formation. Borrowing ideas from Western natural science, the scientists convinced party leaders the one-child policy was "the only option" available to avert a "population crisis" threatening the country's wealth, modernity, and global rise. The book received positive reviews from Nature and Science magazines. Read more at http://www.socsci.uci.edu/newsevents/news_item.php?nid=1906.
Widely considered one of the world's leading experts on China's one-child policy, Greenhalgh has authored multiple books and journal pieces on the topic. "An Alternative to the One-Child Policy in China," coauthored in 1985, opened the political space in China for serious consideration of two-child alternatives. Today, this article serves as a vital resource on the topic in China and is referenced whenever discussion of a two-child option arises. Her most recent book, Governing China's Population: From Leninist to Neoliberal Biopolitics, coauthored with Edwin A. Winckler in 2005, details the rise over some 55 years of a vast new field of governance centered on population and the broad consequences of the one-child policy for China's society, politics, and international position.
"Professor Greenhalgh's work has helped put UC Irvine's department of Anthropology on the map, but it's even more remarkable for its wide interdisciplinary reach," says Dr. Bill Maurer, Anthropology department chair. In 2002, Greenhalgh was awarded the Population Association of America's Clifford C. Clogg Award for Outstanding Early Career Achievement, highlighting her exceptional contributions to population studies.