Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of California / Irvine

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Stanford University
The Worlding of Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Translocal Study of Knowledge, Identity, and Cultural Politics in China and the United States

This project is a cultural analysis of the process by which traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is reconfigured through its integration into biomedical mainstreams in China and the U.S. By conducting fieldwork among TCM communities in Shanghai and in San Francisco respectively, and by foregrounding the translocal nexus between these two locales, this project is both comparative and transnational. It examines, on the one hand, how transnational contexts shape the configuration of TCM at specific locales; on the other, how TCM practitioners from various historical and social locations reconceive of and appropriate science in their negotiations for medical legitimacy. In doing so, this project aims to develop a processual, interactive model of culture which at once dislodges the primordialist representation of TCM, and looks beyond the "West" for analytical referents of scientific inquiry. At a broader level, this project will shed light on the processes by which specific forms of knowledges, identities, and communities are produced in the increasingly transnational world. To achieve these objectives, I will use participant observation, interviews, statistical surveys and archival research to compare the structure and practice of TCM at various medical institutions in Shanghai and San Francisco, and to trace how practitioners travel across institutional and national boundaries to forge translocal communities. The duration of fieldwork will be 18 months, 9 months in Shanghai and 9 in San Francisco.