Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities: Interdisciplinary Studies in Culture

Second Department

Asian Studies

Reader 1

David Roselli

Reader 2

Andrew Aisenberg

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2013 Emily Yau


Thirty years after its initial implementation, China’s one child per family policy has been undeniably successful statistically speaking. Over 400 million births can be estimated to have been prevented, and the birth rate per family has lowered from 2.47 in 1979 at its implementation, to 1.6 most recently in 2010. These numbers cannot be ignored. However, attributing this success to the policy restrictions alone would be viewing it outside of the context of a thirty year evolution of substantial social, political, cultural, and economic changes which have completely changed the face of China. This paper examines the far reaching effects of the one child policy as it is informed by Foucauldian post structuralist theory which defines power as productive, and re conceptualizes the policy as that which is a crucial manifestation of rising biopolitically strategic forms of governmentality which enhance nations through the subjugation, enhancement and creation of the bodies of their subjects. Critical to China’s case is rising ‘non-resistant’ behaviors and attitudes which not only comply with, but actively agree with the one child policy limitations once considered abhorrent. This paper complicates the logic behind the rise of these ‘non-resistant’ attitudes, by suggesting that they are evidence to the fact that this ‘modern’ Chinese subject is the productive outcome of several discourses which proliferated in the last thirty years during the juxtaposed implementation of both economic reforms and family planning limitations. This paper chronicles two of the productive discourses involved in the making of this newly emergent ‘modern’ Chinese subject: the culturally productive discourse involved in the care and feeding of ‘little emperors‘ and the socially exclusive discourse with paints the rural population as internal ‘rural others’.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.