Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Brown University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Harvard University
After SARS: An Ethnography of Public Health Campaigns in South China

In the 1950s and 60s, Mao Zedong launched a series of Patriotic Health Campaigns designed to educate the public and control infections through the mass mobilization of citizens. In these campaigns, millions of peasants and workers participated in vaccination and sanitation activities organized by "barefoot doctors" and their urban equivalents - even collecting rats and cleaning waterways by hand. In 2003, Chinese public health professionals revived some of these dramatic methods to contain the SARS outbreak. Global praise of these efforts has led to a resurgence of highly visible public health campaigns in South China since 2003. The proposed 12-month ethnographic study will investigate the lived experiences of public health professionals in the South Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen who design and implement this new generation of campaigns. I will use the cultural anthropological methods of discourse analysis, semi-structured interviews, life history interviews, participant observation, and event analysis to answer the following research question: how do national and global discourses of moral duty combine with personal career ambition to shape the moral experiences of Chinese public health professionals after SARS? Building on theoretical debates in the anthropology of science, the anthropology of public health, and the medical anthropological literature on moral experience, my research in these two cities is designed to result in the first full-length ethnography dedicated specifically to understanding the lived experiences of Chinese (non-clinical) public health professionals, as well as the first in-depth ethnographic investigation of China's post-SARS disease control campaigns.