Erin Raffety, “Families We Need: Disability, Abandonment, and Foster Care’s Resistance in Contemporary China” (Rutgers UP, 2022)

Set in the remote, mountainous Guangxi Autonomous Region and based on ethnographic fieldwork, Families We Need: Disability, Abandonment, and Foster Care’s Resistance in Contemporary China (Rutgers UP, 2022) traces the movement of three Chinese foster children, Dengrong, Pei Pei, and Meili, from the state orphanage into the humble, foster homes of Auntie Li, Auntie Ma, and Auntie Huang. Traversing the geography of Guangxi, from the modern capital Nanning where Pei Pei and Meili reside, to the small farming village several hours away where Dengrong is placed, this ethnography details the hardships of social abandonment for disabled children and disenfranchised, older women in China, while also analyzing the state’s efforts to cope with such marginal populations and incorporate them into China’s modern future. The book argues that Chinese foster families perform necessary, invisible service to the Chinese state and intercountry adoption, yet the bonds they form also resist such forces, exposing the inequalities, privilege, and ableism at the heart of global family making.

Erin Raffety is a research fellow at the Center for Theological Inquiry, an empirical research consultant at Princeton Theological Seminary, and an associate research scholar at Princeton Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry. Raffety researches and writes on disability, congregational ministry, and church leadership and is an advocate for disabled people.

Shu Wan is currently matriculated as a doctoral student in history at the University at Buffalo. As a digital and disability historian, he serves in the editorial team of Digital Humanities Quarterly and Nursing Clio.

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