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Love's Uncertainty

The Politics and Ethics of Child Rearing in Contemporary China

Teresa Kuan (Author)


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Love’s Uncertainty explores the hopes and anxieties of urban, middle-class parents in contemporary China. Combining long-term ethnographic research with analyses of popular child-rearing manuals, television dramas, and government documents, Teresa Kuan bears witness to the dilemmas of ordinary Chinese parents, who struggle to reconcile new definitions of good parenting with the reality of limited resources. Situating these parents’ experiences in the historical context of state efforts to improve "population quality," Love’s Uncertainty reveals how global transformations are expressed in the most intimate of human experiences. Ultimately, the book offers a meditation on the nature of moral agency, examining how people discern, amid the myriad contingencies of life, the boundary between what can and cannot be controlled.

1. The Politics of Childhood
2. The Horrific and the Exemplary
3. “The Heart Says One Thing but the Hand Does Another”
4. Creating Tiaojian, or, The Art of Disposition
5. The Defeat of Maternal Logic in Televisual Space
6. Investing in Human Capital, Conserving Life Energies
7. Banking in Affects

Teresa Kuan is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"Provides a scholarly yet eminently readable antidote to the thrills that global readers took from the tiger mother popular debates about whether children benefit from ambitious, autocratic parenting."—Pacific Affairs
Love's Uncertainty offers original perspectives on the relationship between subjectivity and governmentality in China and innovative scholarship on urban Chinese childrearing at the start of the twenty-first century.”— Vanessa Fong, Amherst College

“Though topically Love's Uncertainty focuses on parenting dilemmas in the context of China's high-pressure education system, its theoretical breadth makes it difficult to pigeonhole. It is much more than a book about child rearing, or education, or mothering. Love's Uncertainty is also a book about ethics, well-being, affect and the place of emotion in the human condition, the conduct of conduct in the broadest possible sense, Chinese modernity, and ultimately, how to rethink relations between various structures and particular human actions. It handles all of these issues with theoretical sophistication, enticing and illustrative stories, and a strong understanding of the ethnographic context.”— Andrew Kipnis, Australian National University

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