Weighting for the future: The Construction of Scientific Motherhood in Hong Kong Children's Health Contest (1961-1974)
Refereed conference paper presented and published in conference proceedings

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AbstractHong Kong Children's Health Contest(全港兒童健康比賽)is a social campaign organized by Sing Tao Daily and Evening Post since 1961. Similar to the Better Baby Contest that prevailed in the
1920s in the western societies; the Hong Kong version shared the same obsession with children’s weight and eugenic overtones. In order to ‘search for the healthiest children in Hong Kong’, 2000 children and babies are chosen among applicants to be measured, examined and weighed by anonymous western medicine practitioners and pediatricians every year. Yet, the massive-scaled free checkups did not only serve as a selection for the children with best health and optimal weight. In the time when chubbiness and good appetite of children were glorified and seen as a connection to a strong and promising future generation of the Chinese race, the examination of body weight and health status of a child was also used as a medium to quantify the practice of good motherhood. The body of a weighty child, as I would argue, has been an important signifier of a mother’s commitment to scientific and modern motherhood and her abandonment of the ‘traditional’ and superstitious way of child rearing during the early postwar period.
In this study, I will examine how the idea of scientific motherhood has been constructed and promoted in the early formation years of Hong Kong Children's Health Contest in the social context of the 1960s Hong Kong. I will argue how a contest based on the measurement of body weight and other anthropometric data of children has become an important site to govern the practice of scientific motherhood of young Chinese mothers, and how a mother enlightened by modern sciences, and the chubby body of her baby, would act as a discursive resolution to the overwhelming malnourishment of children during the early postwar period and a projection of a stronger future Hong Kong population.
All Author(s) ListSo Alison Yam Wah
Name of ConferenceThe Body in/of History
Start Date of Conference30/06/2017
End Date of Conference01/07/2017
Place of ConferenceSosnowice
Country/Region of ConferencePoland
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

Last updated on 2018-20-01 at 18:59