Unmade in China: Reassembling the Ethnic on the Gansu-Tibetan Border

Chris Vasantkumar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This essay articulates an actor-network theory (ANT) inspired approach to the analysis of emergent arrangements of human difference in contemporary northwest China. Drawing inspiration from Law's work on method and Latour's program for reassembling the social, it enacts human difference as a fluid object in which every element is potentially situationally inessential. Moving beyond the focus on 'ethnic' (minzu) categories of much recent work on minority areas of China, it employs an inductive associographic method in order to provisionally disarticulate and reassemble the 'units of common participation' in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Ultimately, it both makes a case for the usefulness of after-ANT modes of description for work on classical (i.e. non-Science, Technology, and Society-derived) anthropological topics and pushes anthropologists of human difference in China and beyond to pay attention to the ways in which the shapes of their tools may affect the shapes of their projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-286
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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