China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Although institutional care accounts for only 3% of the official “9073” eldercare strategy in contemporary China, far below family care (90%) and community care (7%), this minority experience is far from inconsequential. It is here, on the tip of the iceberg, that larger forces of change intersect and intensify, providing glimpses of the ever-shifting boundary between the known and the unknown within the intimate space of caregiving. In this presentation, I use ethnographic data from eldercare institutions in Kunming, China to report on the everyday life in China’s new nursing homes and highlight the challenges unique to institutional care in modern China. As elders and caregivers try to make sense of the forces that have swept them into these precipitous spaces, their everyday experiences of vulnerability provide valuable perspectives on historical legacies and seeds of change in contemporary Chinese society.