Spectral kinship: Understanding how Vietnamese women endure domestic distress

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Endurance is a key term used by women in contemporary Vietnam to characterize the moral persistence that their marital lives demand. Accounting for women's endurance requires, as fieldwork in Hanoi indicates, ethnographic attention to how kinship can be temporally and spatially capricious, exceeding the immediately manifest. The concept of spectral kinship aims to capture these latent aspects of kinship and their groundings in people's imaginative lives. Defining relatedness as an imaginal accomplishment, an analytic of spectral kinship draws attention to aspects of social existence that are neither “real” nor “delusional” yet socially powerful nevertheless. Approaching Vietnamese women's endurance through the lens of spectral kinship highlights the invisible, imaginal efforts that women make to cope with the vulnerabilities and contingencies of kinship, thereby bringing into analysis crucial yet often undervalued forms of gendered kin-work. [domestic distress, endurance, gender, imaginal, hauntology, kinship, spectrality, Vietnam].

TidsskriftAmerican Ethnologist
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)22-36
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
. This research was conducted under the auspices of the PAVE project (The Impact of Violence on Reproductive Health in Tanzania and Vietnam; https://anthropology.ku.dk/research/research‐projects/completed_projects_/pave/ ). I am grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark for funding the project and to PAVE colleagues in Vietnam, Tanzania, and Denmark for productive research cooperation across continents. Particular thanks to Nguyễn Thị Thuý Hạnh for competently leading the PAVE project in Vietnam, and to Nguyễn Hoàng Thanh, Nguyễn Hoàng Vân Hương, and Trần Thơ Nhị for their dedicated fieldwork. In Đông Anh District I am grateful to the women who participated in the research and to the health authorities and health care workers who facilitated the project. I presented an earlier version of this article at a research seminar held in May 2017 at the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, and I am grateful for the many stimulating and encouraging comments I received. I also thank the anonymous reviewers who generously shared their thoughts on the manuscript, Editors‐in‐Chief Niko Besnier, Stacy Leigh Pigg, and Michael Hathaway for editorial guidance and support, and Pablo Morales for attentive copyediting. Finally, I thank Nguyễn Thu Hương and Cao Xuân Tứ for translating the abstract into Vietnamese and for enlightening conversations about kin work, gender, and hauntology in Vietnam. Acknowledgments AE

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the American Anthropological Association

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