Afterlives of the Field Survey: Several modern moments in Chinese state knowledge production

28 March 2013

Co-presented with Department of Anthropology.

This talk, a report of field research in southwestern China on "ethnic traditional medicine," revisits the conventional perception that social research in Maoist China, especially with regard to ethnic minorities, has been "Stalinist."  The image of a rigid state's-eye view of popular life, and of a form of knowledge that constructs ethnicity in the state's or market's interest only, has not proven to be accurate. The question with which we replace assumptions about Stalinist social research is, rather: how have good communists and civil servants tried, over the years, to "seek truth from facts." We focus on several moments: the model developed by Mao Zedong in his work with the Hunan peasant movement; the field surveys of medicinal plants and experts in the early 1970s; and the new state-led effort to "salvage and sort" the traditional medicine of the nation's minority peoples.

Professor Judith Farquhar

Judith Farquhar is Max Palevsky Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. She is the author of numerous works on contemporary Chinese medical cultures, including Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine(1994);Appetites: Food and Sex in Post-Socialist China (2002); and Ten Thousand Things: Nurturing Life in Contemporary Beijing (2012). Her current research with Dr. Lili Lai investigates the Chinese process of salvaging and sorting out the traditional medical systems of minority nationalities in southern and southwestern China.


Time: 3:00pm

Location: Room 148, R.C.Mills Building (A26)

Cost: Free