Tine M. GammeltoftHaunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam

University of California Press, 2014

by Carla Nappi on July 22, 2014

Tine M. Gammeltoft

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Tine Gammeltoft’s new book explores the process of reproductive decision making in contemporary Hanoi. Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2014) develops an anthropology of belonging, paying special attention to the ways that women and their communities understand and make decisions based on ultrasound imaging technologies. In the course of making life-and-death decisions, the subjects of Gammeltoft’s book confronted ethically demanding circumstances through which they forged moral selves. Inspired by the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Haunting Images considers their reproductive choices as acts of collective belonging, producing the subjectivities of both mother and fetus. The book considers these choices in light of the extended repercussions of Agent Orange in Vietnam, the local specificity of biopower, national concepts of “population quality,” and the precarity of individual attachments to social collectives. The second half of the book follows the experiences of women who were informed via 3D ultrasound scans that the children they expected would be anomalous, tracing their choices, questions, contexts, and encounters with childhood disability.  It is a powerful and deeply affecting study

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