Belonging

Comprehending Subjectivity in Vietnam and Beyond

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 University of Copenhagen tine.gammeltoft@anthro.ku.dk
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Abstract

In this article I explore how a ‘belonging’ perspective can contribute to anthropological reflections on subjectivity and agency. On the basis of two ethnographic cases from Vietnam, I show how people tend to find their bearings in existentially difficult situations by placing themselves within concrete communities of others. Distinguishing between intersubjective, territorial, and political forms of belonging, I discuss anthropological approaches to belonging practices, highlighting the shared analytical assumptions that have underpinned anthropological use of the concept. By placing mutuality and responsiveness at the center of attention, I show that a belonging perspective can help us to think more carefully about the complex ways in which freedom and constraint intertwine in human lives.

Contributor Notes

Tine M. Gammeltoft is a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. She studies global health, gender, and kinship and has conducted research in Vietnam for over two decades. She is the author of the award-winning Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam (2014). Her current research, carried out in Tanzania and Vietnam, focuses on the intersections between violence and health within domestic spheres. E-mail: tine.gammeltoft@anthro.ku.dk

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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