Susan Greenhalgh, anthropologist and author of Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng's China, has been awarded the Association for Asian Studies' Joseph Levenson Book Prize for the Best Book on China Post-1900. She received the award, which carries a $1000 prize, at the association's annual meeting, held March 25-28 in Philadelphia.

Since its publishing in 2008, the book has also received a 2009 honorable mention in the Society for Cultural Anthropology's competition for the Gregory Bateson Book Prize, and has been positively reviewed in more than a dozen publications, including Nature, Science, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Below, read the Association for Asian Studies citation presented to Greenhalgh upon receipt of her most recent award:

Just One Child is a truly impressive book. Through assiduous interviewing over many years, supplemented by a wealth of hard-to-secure documentation, Susan Greenhalgh has unveiled surprising, important answers to the question of how and why the Chinese leadership came to adopt the one-child family policy. She convincingly shows that the program originated with an influential Chinese missile scientist and his colleagues, who were able to use the prestigious aura of “scientific” analysis to dominate debates over population policy in 1979-80 and to convince top-level political leaders to take drastic action. This history is important in its own right, given that the one-child policy has affected such a vast number of people so dramatically.  What makes Greenhalgh’s book outstanding is that she insightfully utilizes her case study to address questions of a broader scope. She shows how policy gets made at the top of the Chinese party-state and how Deng reformers thought about policy-making in general. She examines the role in modern policy-making of “scientism”—a faith in the power of science to conjure up solutions—and shows how this had a particular attraction in the immediate post-Mao period. She sheds new light on the circumstances in which intellectuals began to enter the policy-making arena, and also shows the ways Western models (in this case, the Club of Rome’s population/resource projections) influenced Chinese policy. Throughout, she insightfully links her discussions to international discourses in the social sciences. To an unusual degree, Just One Child combines entirely original scholarship, a sophisticated conceptual framework, and rigorous analysis.”

Learn more about Greenhalgh's research online.


connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766