Governance of Life in Chinese Moral Experience : The Quest for an Adequate Life book cover
1st Edition

Governance of Life in Chinese Moral Experience
The Quest for an Adequate Life

ISBN 9780415597197
Published February 2, 2011 by Routledge
296 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

China has experienced a tremendous turn-around over the past three decades from the ethos of sacrificing life to the emergent appeal for valuing life. This book takes an interdisciplinary look at China during these decades of transformation through the defining theme of governance of life. With an emphasis on how to achieve an adequate life, the contributors integrate a whole range of life-related domains including: the death of Sun Zhigang, the peril caused by rising tobacco consumption, the emerging suicide intervention, the turning points in the fight against AIDS, the intensely evolving birth policy, the emerging biological citizenship, and so on. In doing so, they explore how biological life has been governed differently to enhance the wellbeing of the population instead of promoting ideological goals. This change, dubbed "the deepening in governmentality," is one of the most important driving forces for China’s rise, and will have huge bearings on how the Chinese will achieve an adequate life in the 21st century. This book presents works by a number of internationally known scholars and will be of interest to students and scholars of anthropology, sociology, political science, history, Chinese philosophy, law, and public health.

Table of Contents

Introduction China: Incomplete Governmentality Everett Yuehong Zhang, Part I Min yi shi wei tian (People Regard Food as Top Priority)1 Feeding the Revolution: Public Mess Halls and Coercive Commensality in Maoist China, James L. Watson 2 The Language of Food: What Has Become of the Great Leap Famine, Stephan Feuchtwang 3 The Truth about the Death Toll of the Great Leap Famine in Sichuan: An Analysis of Maoist Sovereignty, Everett Yuehong Zhang Part II The Politics and Morality of Death 4 The Death of a Detainee: The Predicament of Status Politics in Contemporary China and the Way Out, Liang Zhiping 5 The Life of Sino Sacer: Moral Sociality, Death, Memory-Making among Chinese Cigarette Smokers, Matthew Kohrman 6 Political Ambition, Life and Personal Success: Two Cases of Political Suicide, Wu Fei Part III Governing Life 7 The Memory of Barefoot Doctor System, Yang Nianqun 8 Turning Points in China’s AIDS Response, Joan Kaufman 9 Governing Chinese Life: From Sovereignty to Biopolitical Governance, Susan Greenhalgh Part IV From Living Being to Wellbeing 10 Citizen Satisfaction with Government Performance: Public Opinion in Rural and Urban China, Tony Saich 11 Debating Women’s Rights and Indigenous Rights in Hong Kong: Challenges to a Colonial Category, Rubie Watson 12 Biological Citizenship and its Form, Nikolas Rose Afterword Tu Weiming

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Everett Zhang is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo. Arthur Kleinman is Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University, Professor of Medical Anthropology and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and currently Director of the Asian Center of Harvard University. Weiming Tu is Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilization, Harvard University.


"What appeals to me most in this volume is the way in which the chapters together, but from very different perspectives, manage to highlight fundamental human issues regarding the governing of life and death in China, and Chinese people's search (and sometimes demand) for adequate lives. The chapters provide valuable insights into how governmental practices interchange with cultural norms; what people in China have come to regard as crucial for living adequate lives; and what they therefore expect from their government and from themselves as subjects. The book is easily accessible, with chapters that often include good definitions of key concepts and overviews of topics concerning governmentality in China. It should therefore make a welcome contribution not just to specialists but also to students at earlier stages of their studies." - Mette Halskov Hansen, University of Oslo, Norway; Asian Anthropology, Vol. 10 (2011)

'This is a complex book with complex papers, looking at many interesting domains of life and power in modern China. All the authors analyze political and ethical aspects of social phenomena in modern China in terms of the “Chinese moral experience”.' - Lili Lai, Peking University; The China Journal (July 2013).