Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

NEW DATES: 28-30 June 2021

Panel: Situated natalisms – familial and filial forms in Africa and Asia

Conveners: Ayo Wahlberg Dept. of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Tyler Zoanni Ethnologie, University of Bayreuth

Throughout (especially East) Asia, “ultra-low fertility” – where fertility rates are around or even below 1 child per woman – has emerged as an urgent political issue, as many States (notably China’s) scramble to reverse decades of restrictive family planning policies. In contrast, demographers and policy-makers confront “Africa’s population explosion,” which they predict will see Africa add an additional 1 billion people over the coming 30 years. Such demographic projections present images of an ageing Asia and a young Africa in the form of their respective (inverted) population pyramids. Given the complex interlinkages between demography and family, in this panel contributors will explore how what we see as a multiplicity of natalisms are currently (trans)forming throughout Africa and Asia. Whereas pronatalism is defined as the advocacy or encouragement (often by a State) of having a large family, anti-natalism is the active discouragement of or abstaining from procreation. By pluralizing matters with the concept of natalisms, we aim to ask how familial and filial relations, obligations and expectations are being shaped within particular socio-cultural settings on the one hand, and against a back drop of demographic change, economic growth (or lack thereof), urbanization and migration. In Africa, as high fertility rates hold constant, many country’s populations are expected to double by the middle of this century. Many Africans today strive to make large families while confronting increasing costs and challenges of a rapidly urbanizing life, amidst intensifying population densities and the thin availability of state services and infrastructures already stretched to their limits. In Asia, as fertility rates fall, small family sizes are generating new forms of filial adjustment, which is to say a series of kin-based processes through which socio-economic means, familial duties and expectations as well as future aspirations are sought reconciled at a time of transformation and intense competition for jobs, good education and housing. We welcome contributions that address the ways in old and new natalisms are shaping familial and filial forms in Asia and Africa from anthropologists, sociologists, historians as well as science and technology studies scholars.