ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
Bibliographic Data: Rogaski, Ruth. Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

Main Argument: "…this study considers the century-long process of how health and disease emerged as a discursive center of Chinese deficiency under conditions of imperialism and traces specific projects of 'awakening' the Chinese nation, race, and body to a state of corporal modernity" (3). This emergence of 'hygienic modernity' was a central part of China's experience of imperialism.

Hygienic modernity in Tianjin )

Conclusion: Argument, Sources, Examples
Throughout the twentieth century, weisheng became an instrumental discourse informing the Chinese elite’s vision of a modern ideal, a vehicle through which they hoped state, society, and the individual would be transformed. As grasped by Meiji bureaucrats, late Qing reformers, and Guomindang modernizers, weisheng centered concerns of national sovereignty, institutional discipline, and government administration on the site of the body. In an uncanny way, the single modern Chinese term weisheng encompasses what Foucault called “ biopower,” a series of techniques through which the state undertakes the administration of life, and “governmentality,” the idea that individuals internalize disciplinary regimes and thus harmonize their own behaviors with the goals of the state. (300)
She concludes that the discourse of Western superiority and Chinese deficiency was centered around weisheng, and notes that Japan played an important mediating role in the elite Chinese adoption of modernity.

Critical assessment: This is an excellent and influential book, for good reason. I particularly like the way she refuses to de-emphasize violence, and the ways in which she points out the unevenness of regimes of colonial control and the adoption/contestation of different aspects of modernity.

Further reading: Lydia Liu, Translingual Practice; Larissa Heinrich, The Afterlife of Images

Meta notes: If biopower is the way we live now, why can't the United States compel its citizens to get their childhood vaccinations?


ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

August 2017

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