In this paper, I invert analysis of the practice. Following scholars who call for additional study of the practices and processes that may constitute gender (Schrock and Schwalbe 2009, Fausto-Sterling 2000, Harding and Norberg 2005, Lorber 1993), I examine assisted injection interactions by starting with the dynamics of the practice itself. Furthermore, instead of only looking at women who receive assistance, I look at both men and women who receive and provide injection assistance. In doing so, I examine whether the interaction dynamics subordinate women specifically or injection assistance recipients more generally. Thus, I use the case of assisted injection to examine the relationship between interaction power dynamics and behaviors that are considered masculine and feminine, such as vulnerability, passivity, detachment, and control.
This paper is based on 16 months of periodic ethnographic observation from 2015 to 2019 in San Francisco CA with six key informants who provided or received injection assistance and their social groups. Observations took place in hospitals, apartments, public spaces, tents, cafes, and wakes. During this time, I observed five assisted injection providers injecting eight recipients a total of 18 times. Between site visits I maintained contact through phone calls, texts, and video chats. In addition, I conducted semi-structured interviews with 80 people who receive injection assistance, provide assistance, or both. To bolster validity, I interviewed multiple members of assisted injection networks, with a specific focus on collecting accounts from both the provider and receiver in any given assisted injection dyad.
I find that in the interaction providers take a detached and controlling stance while recipients are passive, vulnerable, and do not protect themselves from injection-related harms. This holds regardless of the participants’ prior relationship dynamics, the intentions of assisted injection providers, and the participants’ gender identities. Consistently, I find that if one person both receives and provides injection assistance, they are detached and controlling while injecting another person, then passive and vulnerable while being injected. I find one significant gender difference: many women who provide injection assistance perform more care work in the interactions and have more developed techniques than men. I suggest that behaviors considered masculine or feminine may be malleable and dynamic in certain situations. Instead of being fixed to gender, they also correlate to position in interactions. Thus, this work adds to scholarship that decouples masculinity and femininity from gendered bodies (Pascoe 2007, Halberstram 1998), and in doing so, it demonstrates how interaction power dynamics are central to the expression of behaviors associated with gender.
In this paper, I focus on the materiality of the caste – how caste is embodied, through what media and through which bodies is caste made most visible. In the process, while reviewing and building on existing theories such as Bourdieu’s Habitus, I theorize the concept of ‘caste-embodiment’ in the contemporary context – that is, in modern times when the traditional markers of the caste are dissolving through the blurring of boundaries in the sense that residential segregation by caste is gradually disappearing, rural to urban migration is leading to more anonymity, and there is no longer a clear division of labor by caste in most areas. In essence, caste is increasingly becoming invisible from the larger spectacle, but it still constitutes individual subjectivity which, deliberately or inadvertently, informs and shapes the collective objectivity. I contend that the body, and particularly the “high-caste” male body, remains to be the vehicle of caste-visibility and carries with itself the markers of caste – the expression of which may differ by the spatial context the body finds itself in. The shifting of analytic locus from caste as a system or structure to caste as residing within the individual bodies has the potential to lend an incredible insight into how body is depended upon as a medium for caste visibility and to the micro-structural processes by which caste is embodied.
The emphasis on the male body comes from the patriarchal context that accords disproportionate power to men in terms of what the male body may encompass, express, and achieve. However, in studying caste, gender, and even masculinity, body of the high-caste male has been treated as axiomatic and hence has largely remained absent from the discussion. The bodies of low-caste men and women, in contrast, are “othered” bodies and the “othered” is always the subject of much inspection. In this paper, I focus on the bodies that have remained unexplored and understudied in the field of caste and masculinity – that of high-caste men. I study young men of Punjab, a north-Indian state, belonging to the higher caste of farmers (known as Jats) and explore how Punjabi hegemonic masculinities are constructed through the process of caste-embodiment.
Embodiment has been historically central to Punjabi self-definition since the production of the Khalsa Sikh body during Mughal period and that of martial races in British imperialism. Consequently, the body of the Punjabi Sikh male has been acclaimed over history as either of a warrior or of a soldier. The context of body and embodiment is particularly significant in studying contemporary Jat masculinities and their hegemonic principles as Jat men’s bodies lie at the intersection of the Sikh body, the relatively privileged high-caste body, and the landowning farmer’s body. Predicated on Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, and using the principles of abductive analysis with empirical data, I formulate the concept of ‘caste-embodiment’ to characterize the synthesis between the macro-structural world and individual high-caste men’s comportment and bodily expression within the context of a caste-society with a larger focus on the construction and performativity of hegemonic masculinities in different geographical spaces. To enhance the plausibility of the concept, I start with the local spaces, in Punjab, where degree of caste visibility is the highest and then transpose the framework to transnational spaces, in Canada, where caste is ostensibly rendered invisible and see how the concept of caste-embodiment fits in these different contexts.
Growing up in a predominantly Vietnamese immigrant community in East San Jose, Sy’s behavior in the vignette above would be considered typical in any public school. Asian gangs have been part and parcel to the school community and larger neighborhood since the migration of Southeast Asians to California dating back to the 1960s (Lam, 2015). For those who tend to see Asian Americans as model minorities, the situation with Sy may be puzzling. It is within this tension that I see the potential for an intellectual project that explores how people perceive and make meaning of Cambodian American gang-affiliated youth. In this paper, I investigate the informal rules of race to bring complexities to our understanding of racialization by way of an analysis on Cambodian American youth gang formation, membership, and affiliation. I argue that racialization is a valid way to interrogate the experiences of gang affiliated Cambodian American youth given the substantial degree of ethnic or racial profiling involved in the process to make meaning of their affiliation.
Drawing on my ethnographic fieldwork at a public high school in Long Beach, California I argue that instead of viewing Cambodian American gang affiliated youth as opposite of the model minority, they are in fact racialized in the same vein as this stereotype. I theorize their racialization as model criminals instead: unlike traditional gang members, they go to school, attend classes, and are respectful of teachers. These characteristics are rooted in cultural and capitalist values of being obedient, hardworking, and successful—values that the model minority stereotype was founded on. In a sense, they are constructed as the model criminals of which other racial groups should aspire to be like as gang members.
The paradox in which Cambodian American gang affiliated youth are viewed hints at the serious analytical problem we have in understanding Southeast Asian Americans. In particular, the model minority stereotype becomes intensified when we examine the experiences of youth who are gang affiliated. Their racialization has become contradictory and illegible, so much so that their experiences are still understood under the lens of the model minority myth despite their gang identity representing ideals that go against it. My paper will criticize the model minority myth ideologically to 1) develop a deeper understanding of race and its intersection with poverty and, 2) reveal the theoretical shortcomings on their construction as model criminals and argue its perpetuation in racial inequities.