Saturday, January 26, 2013

Upcoming Seminar: Sympathy, Injury, and Quackery

"Sympathy, Injury, and Quackery: A Political Economy of Hope in Contemporary China"

Speaker :Trang X. TA
Lecturer, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University, and
Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Hong Kong

Time: 12:30 p.m., Friday, 1 February 2013
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


What are the calculations individuals make in order to secure health and a livelihood? This talk traces three ethnographic cases to explicate an index of risk, life, and value in late-reform China. The first case recounts the narrative of one family from the countryside who came to Beijing to secure medical attention for their young son with leukemia. This family is one of countless cases of individuals and families deploying various strategies such as public charity or media attention to afford medical care within a rapidly commercializing health care system. The second case explores the 上访 “shangfang” (to visit a high official to air a grievance) process and how petitioners also take narrating of abuse, personal indignity, and suffering to the streets. Beijing is in many ways the last resort for these petitioners and their testimonies are symptomatic of citizen-subjects caught in a moral stasis between an equivocating bureaucratic system and a nascent legal system. The third case is of a healer operating a community clinic offering Chinese medicine treatments. As a practitioner with dubious medical training, he offers affordable care in the margins of institutionalized medicine. Each of these cases serves to illustrate how a political economy of hope operates in an environment of precariousness.

Feel free to bring your box lunch or sandwich to eat during the talk

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