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Eating Spring Rice

Eating Spring Rice: The Cultural Politics of AIDS in Southwest China

Sandra Teresa Hyde
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 290
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  • Book Info
    Eating Spring Rice
    Book Description:

    Eating Spring Riceis the first major ethnographic study of HIV/AIDS in China. Drawing on more than a decade of ethnographic research (1995-2005), primarily in Yunnan Province, Sandra Teresa Hyde chronicles the rise of the HIV epidemic from the years prior to the Chinese government's acknowledgement of this public health crisis to post-reform thinking about infectious-disease management. Hyde combines innovative public health research with in-depth ethnography on the ways minorities and sex workers were marked as the principle carriers of HIV, often despite evidence to the contrary. Hyde approaches HIV/AIDS as a study of the conceptualization and the circulation of a disease across boundaries that requires different kinds of anthropological thinking and methods. She focuses on "everyday AIDS practices" to examine the links between the material and the discursive representations of HIV/AIDS. This book illustrates how representatives of the Chinese government singled out a former kingdom of Thailand, Sipsongpanna, and its indigenous ethnic group, the Tai-Lüe, as carriers of HIV due to a history of prejudice and stigma, and to the geography of the borderlands. Hyde poses questions about the cultural politics of epidemics, state-society relations, Han and non-Han ethnic dynamics, and the rise of an AIDS public health bureaucracy in the post-reform era.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93948-6
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  6. Notes on Transliteration
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. INTRODUCTION The Cultural Politics of AIDS in Postreform China
    (pp. 1-34)

    Despite “the fact that AIDS had appeared simultaneously in disparate cultures and apparently unconnected places around the globe,” by the late 1980s, the World Health Organization had carved up the world based on epidemiologic maps of HIV/AIDS (Patton 2002: xi–xii). The pattern of incidence associated with North America and Europe, where cases were concentrated among homosexual men and injection drug users, was called Pattern One.¹ This was followed by African cases, which were initially found among heterosexuals who were non–injection drug users, and labeled Pattern Two. The World Health Organization now warns that Asian AIDS will be the...

  8. PART ONE Narratives of the State

    • CHAPTER 1 The Aesthetics of Statistics
      (pp. 37-74)

      This chapter makes sense of the production of statistics through examining the first HIV/AIDS knowledge, attitude, practice, and behavior (KABP) survey conducted in southern Yunnan’s Menglian Tai-Lahu-Wa Autonomous County, which borders Burma. The significance of this survey involves the intersection of several factors: the late-socialist Chinese state and the rise of hybrid nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), new forms of socialist governmentality, international survey techniques, and the aesthetics of statistical practice, as well as the personal (Hacking 1990; Mitchell 2002; Kohrman 2005).² I locate the Chinese HIV/AIDS epidemic within global standards of scientific discourse and illustrate what happens when a survey confronts...

    • CHAPTER 2 Everyday AIDS Practices: Risky Bodies and Contested Borders
      (pp. 75-100)

      When this policeman downplays HIV/AIDS, he is not ignoring the emergence of the epidemic; rather, he reflects a recurrent discourse around HIV/AIDS that emphasizes policing and surveillance of the border regions. Borders here provide a liminal space where many transactions occur and where the spread of HIV/AIDS in Xishuangbanna, an autonomous minority prefecture bordering Laos and Burma, symbolizes what Arjun Appadurai (1996) characterizes as late-twentieth-century cross-border mass migrations of peoples, goods, services, and, I would add, viruses, all coloring a moving transnational canvas. This chapter focuses on the late-socialist Chinese state and untangles the actions of certain actors, such as...

  9. PART TWO Narratives of Jinghong, Sipsongpanna

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 101-104)

      If prostitutes constitute one of the key narratives of how HIV/AIDS is spread across the globe, it is essential to understand just what is happening at the local level in establishments that exchange sex for money. Equally important is an understanding of the construction of the places themselves. In the four chapters in part II, I turn my ethnographic lens inward toward sex tourism in the Chinese border town of Jinghong, Sipsongpanna Tai (Xishuangbanna Dai) Nationality Autonomous Prefecture. I thus move from the dominant political and scientific discourses around HIV/AIDS toward more local conceptions of the everyday practices of sexual...

    • CHAPTER 3 Sex Tourism and Performing Ethnicity in Jinghong
      (pp. 105-127)

      This chapter takes us to China’s southwest border region of Xishuangbanna Dai Nationality Autonomous Prefecture (hereafter referred to by its Tai name, Sipsongpanna) in southern Yunnan in the late 1990s. Development in Sipsongpanna is a story about how a small town on the Lancang River became a city of sex tourism, where Han migration and China’s state tourism policies transformed a series of large Tai villages into the cosmopolitan city of Jinghong. How has late-socialist development transformed the rural villages of Sipsongpanna into urban Jinghong? Jinghong resonates in China as a place where the fantasies of sex, travel, and minority...

    • CHAPTER 4 Eating Spring Rice: Transactional Sex in a Beauty Salon
      (pp. 128-149)

      To conceive of sex in Madam Liu’s salon as “transactional”(xing jiaoyi)is to foreground both the subjectivity of those negotiating the exchange of sex for something else and the uneven relations of power structuring the possibilities of such an exchange.¹ In chapter 3, I explored how representations of women in Sipsongpanna reveal not only images of virtuous Han wives and unvirtuous Tai girls but also several other categories, most notably the complex performances of ethnicity, including the mimesis of the exotic Tai. In linking both representations and performances back to the main topic of HIV/AIDS, I begin by discussing...

    • CHAPTER 5 A Sexual Hydraulic: Commercial “Sex Workers” and Condoms
      (pp. 150-168)

      When I inquired about how well these condoms sold, the clerk, glancing down at her wares, replied that they had the best display in town and that although the hotel was not yet renting rooms, they were making money on the restaurant, the shop, and these condoms. Here I argue that there is a dialectical relationship between the decline in direct public health intervention and the rise of popular sexual consumption practices in shaping condom use. Moving from a socialist health care system, where health care services were often free of charge, to one where many services are privatized means...

    • CHAPTER 6 Moral Economies of Sexuality
      (pp. 169-192)

      While the above scenarios, revealing the poverty of rural minority hill tribes and the relative affluence of a young female economic migrant, present two contrasting and essentializing views of Sipsongpanna, they also provide a glimpse into the divergent worlds that make up modern Sipsongpanna. The two previous chapters set the stage for my investigation of how the cultural politics of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in late-twentieth-century China can be understood as a disease of geography, and of how the border minority prefectures near Laos and Burma became its epicenter. In this chapter, I shift my focus to examine the connections between...

  10. EPILOGUE What Is to Be Done?
    (pp. 193-208)

    Reporter Tu Qiao’s journalistic account of her character Xiao Lu, a Chinese man infected with AIDS, takes us full circle: AIDS does infect and infest people’s lives with much sorrow, pain, and suffering.¹ Because much has changed in the past eight years, in this epilogue I bring readers up to date, particularly for the period from 2002 to early 2006, when my field was libraries in the United States and Canada. As a public health practitioner and an anthropologist, I conclude with discussions culled from my field notes on informants’ suggestions on how to prevent the further spread of HIV...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-230)
  12. References
    (pp. 231-256)
  13. Index
    (pp. 257-271)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-272)