Traditional Chinese medicine is often portrayed as an enduring system of therapeutic knowledge that has become globalised in recent decades. In Other-Worldly, Mei Zhan argues that the discourses and practices called "traditional Chinese medicine" are made through, rather than prior to, translocal encounters and entanglements. Zhan spent a decade following practitioners, teachers, and advocates of Chinese medicine through clinics, hospitals, schools, and grassroots organisations in Shanghai and the San Francisco Bay Area. Drawing on that ethnographic research, she demonstrates that the everyday practice of Chinese medicine is about much more than writing herbal prescriptions and inserting acupuncture needles. "Traditional Chinese medicine" is also made and remade through efforts to create a preventive medicine for the "proletariat world," reinvent it for cosmopolitan middle-class aspirations, produce clinical "miracles," translate knowledge and authority, and negotiate marketing strategies and medical ethics. Zhan emphasises that unexpected encounters and interactions are not anomalies in the structure of Chinese medicine. Instead, they are constitutive of its irreducibly complex and open-ended worlds. Zhan proposes an ethnography of "worlding" as an analytic for engaging and illuminating emergent cultural processes such as those she describes. Rather than taking "cultural difference" as the starting point for anthropological inquiries, this analytic reveals how various terms of difference - for example, "traditional," "Chinese," and "medicine" - are invented, negotiated, and deployed translocally.
Other-Worldly: Making Chinese Medicine Through Transnational Frames
$36.21 Regular Price
PublisherDuke University Press