Citizenship, Borders, and the Politics of Birth Registration

Amanda Cheong, Sociology

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 12:00pm
LAPA Conference Room, 348 Wallace Hall
Event Category: 
Graduate Students

RSVP requested: Click Here

LEGS, or "Law-Engaged Graduate Students," meets during the academic year to discuss a work in progress by one of our Graduate Associates. Academic papers, dissertation proposals, and dissertation chapters have been presented at these meetings, to an audience of fellow graduate students.

From Amanda:  "I would be grateful for your feedback on this job talk, and for the chance to practice fielding difficult questions (the more critical the better!). No prior knowledge is required, as one of my goals is for the talk to be accessible across disciplinary boundaries."

Abstract:  "More than 1 in 4 children under the age of 5 worldwide have not been registered at birth (UNICEF 2017). In this talk, I identify the causes for why so many children continue to be left out of birth registration systems, and the consequences of such exclusion for individuals' lives and states' development aspirations. Drawing from 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Malaysia, I challenge the assumption that under-registration is the result of a lack of state capacity. I draw attention to how the recording of vital events, more than a routine bureaucratic task, has profound socio-legal implications—most notably for the determination of citizenship. I demonstrate that who gets counted, and how, are inherently political choices, and that these choices are often made in ways that leave migrants, racial minorities, and the poor without the means to prove their legal personhood."

Amanda Cheong

Amanda Cheong is a PhD candidate in sociology and social policy, studying the links between legal status and the reproduction of inequality, with a focus on undocumented, stateless, and refugee populations.