The scale of scatter: Rethinking social topologies via the anthropology of 'residual' China

Chris Vasantkumar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


After the 'Bamboo Curtain' closed China to foreign social scientists in 1949, anthropologists shifted their attention to those 'residues' of China beyond the control of the People's Republic. In the process, formerly heterodox and out-of-the-way locales such as Taiwan and the New Territories of Hong Kong were made into the exemplars par excellence of Chinese culture. In this paper I argue that the peculiar spatialities of this Cold-War-era anthropology of 'residual China' have potentially generative consequences for a rethinking of the after-actor-network-theory (aANT) focus on social topologies. In particular, these spatialities' simultaneous enactment of the presence and absence of Chineseness evinces parallels with and prompts revisions to the notion of a "fire topology". These revisions in turn suggest the necessity of inventing novel topological models for (more-than-) human realities in order to work against both the creeping naturalization of after-actor-network-theory analytic frames in particular and the routinization of theory more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)918-934
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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