Seminar: "Ford Foundation, Sexual Rights and Sexual Revolutions in China." Dr Leon Rocha, University of Liverpool, 23 April 2018

23 April 2018 (Monday), 4-6pm.

Location: Room 129, Hetherington Building, University of Glasgow.

In 1999 and 2000, a team of sexologists, social scientists, and family planning officials directed a project to disseminate sexual knowledge among family planning cadres from Jinghai County (now Jinghai District), Tianjin. 31 cadres were recruited to participate in intensive training that would help them advise their clients at family planning centres on matters related to sex and intimacy. A training manual was devised, entitled Sex Education Manual for Family Planning Workers, which promoted a holistic conception of sexual well-being that not only involved the absence of reproductive disorders but also every individuals' entitlement to pleasure and fulfilment in sexual life.
The project was funded by the Ford Foundation, and was endorsed by local and national government. It appealed to and dovetailed with the Chinese state's interest in managing China's continuous "sexual revolution", and in maintaining social stability by strengthening "familial harmony". Through this historical case study, informed by archival materials from the Rockefeller Archive Center and animated by Lisa Rofel's theorisation of the construction of "desiring subjects" in post-socialist China. I analyse the convergences and contradictions of the ambitions of a powerful American foundation and the priorities of the Chinese government. I argue that this attempt to inculcate the importance of the orgasm, especially female orgasm, and the insertion of the discourse of "sexual rights" encapsulated global efforts to distribute neoliberal biopower.
Contact: Dr Emily Ryder,

First published: 10 January 2018

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