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Bodies of Difference

Bodies of Difference: Experiences of Disability and Institutional Advocacy in the Making of Modern China

Matthew Kohrman
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    Bodies of Difference
    Book Description:

    Bodies of Differencechronicles the compelling story of disability's emergence as an area of significant sociopolitical activity in contemporary China. Keenly attentive to how bodies are embedded in discourse, history, and personal exigency, Matthew Kohrman details ways that disability became a fount for the production of institutions and identities across the Chinese landscape during the final decades of the twentieth century. He looks closely at the creation of the China Disabled Persons' Federation and the lives of numerous individuals, among them Deng Pufang, son of China's Communist leader Deng Xiaoping.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93556-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. viii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-30)

    One day in the spring of 1968, a body dropped from a third-floor window at Beijing University. On the way down, it bounced off a steel guide wire, flipped, and thudded to the ground. A crowd of people quickly congregated. At first, no one did anything except look at the young man and point toward the window of the physics building from where he fell. Moments later, the twenty-four-year-old man regained consciousness and began to call to those around him for medical treatment. Still, nobody came to the man’s aid. As is the case in many urban settings around the...

  7. Chapter 1 A Biomythography in the Making
    (pp. 31-56)

    One day in early 1971 officials of Beijing University (Beida) arrived at the 301 Brigade Military Hospital. They entered and approached the bedside of the former Beida graduate student, who had lost the ability to walk two years earlier. The officials told Deng Pufang they wished to transfer him elsewhere to convalesce. Still the dutiful student, Deng consented, and in the afternoon he was packed into a jeep and moved to the Qing He Shelter (Qing He Jiuji Yuan) forty-five kilometers northwest of Tiananmen Square.

    Originally a nursing home for women, Qing He had become a place of last refuge...

  8. Chapter 2 Why Ma Zhun Doesn’t Count
    (pp. 57-82)

    As Ma Zhun pushed open the doors that chilly morning, and shuffled her way into Beijing’s Xuan Wu district’s Federation office, her goal was simple: to get a disabled person’s ID card so she could keep her job. Ma Zhun made this very clear, first in a gentle conversational tone and finally in a loud declaration. Like many people I observed during the spring of 1995 while I was conducting research at the Xuan Wu office, Ma Zhun had been sent to the Federation by her employer. The state-owned enterprise for which she worked, a small money-losing engine factory, told...

  9. Chapter 3 Building a Corporate Body
    (pp. 83-112)

    In the early 1980s a group of people had to prevaricate their way past a guard at Beihai, Beijing’s sprawling metropolitan park. The guard had stopped the men and women as they were attempting to pass through the park’s front gate, asking the several dozen people in the group why they wanted to enter the former imperial gardens located across the street from the Forbidden City. An answer had been prepared in advance, one designed to win the group’s entry into the park and to avoid political repercussions. “We’re all friends,” members of the group said, “and we’ve come here...

  10. Chapter 4 Speeding Up Life in Beijing
    (pp. 113-143)

    In spite of their size and pageantry, I initially found the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled (FESPIC) to be an ethnographic disappointment. This sporting event, held at Beijing’s sprawling Asian Games Village in early fall 1994, was sparsely attended, and it was nearly impossible to speak with any Chinese athletes or the government representatives responsible for them.

    I had thought that attending FESPIC ’94 would provide an interesting interlude between my first and second years of fieldwork. But, well before the games were over, I was thinking of leaving Beijing and heading south again to Hainan....

  11. Chapter 5 Troubled Sociality: The Federation-Canji Relationship in Wenchang County
    (pp. 144-170)

    Before Chen Lu gave up his government post for a more lucrative job in Haikou, his colleagues regularly asked him to handle the paperwork. Whether it was income reports, census updates, or marriage applications, the task of filling out the village’s government forms nearly always fell to him. Neighbors and friends humored Chen that this was because he was the most educated cadre in Min Song village, but Chen knew, somewhat bitterly, that his pencil-pushing duties stemmed from his junior status within the community’s government bureaucracy, the “village committee.”

    So Chen was hardly surprised when one day in 1992 his...

  12. Chapter 6 Dis/ablement and Marriage: Ridiculed Bachelors, Ambivalent Grooms
    (pp. 171-199)

    When Lin Gemei got off the bus in front of Wenjiao’s meat and vegetable market, it did not take her long to find a jitney driver heading to Min Song. The driver already had a number of passengers on board, so before long he started the engine and set off. During the bumpy fifteen-minute ride to the village, Gemei struggled to understand what her co-passengers were saying, since they were all chatting in Wenchangese. Fortunately, the driver knew Mandarin and he kindly served as the young woman’s interpreter. Shortly before they arrived in Min Song, on Gemei’s request, the driver...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 200-214)

    Late on February 19, 1997, China’s top government offices sent a statement to the Chinese Communist Party and its media outlets. Within hours, the statement had been transmitted around the world. It announced that Deng Xiaoping had died at 9:08 that evening. In distinctively clinical terms, it explained that Deng “had suffered advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease with complications of lung infections,” and he had “passed away because of failure of respiration-circulation” (China Daily, February 20, 1997). While the news was worrisome to many, few were surprised. Deng’s failing health had long been a topic of public discussion among Chinese...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 215-244)
  15. APPENDIX A The Five Criteria of Disability Used by the 1987 National Sampling Survey of the Disabled
    (pp. 245-250)
    (pp. 251-254)
    (pp. 255-274)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 275-285)