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Living Translation

Living Translation: Language and the Search for Resonance in U.S. Chinese Medicine

Sonya E. Pritzker
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 228
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  • Book Info
    Living Translation
    Book Description:

    Integrating theoretical perspectives with carefully grounded ethnographic analyses of everyday interaction and experience,Living Translationexamines the worlds of international translators as well as U.S. teachers and students of Chinese medicine, focusing on the transformations that occur as participants engage in a "search for resonance" with foreign terms and concepts. Based on a close examination of heated international debates as well as specific texts, classroom discussions, and interviews with publishers, authors, teachers, and students, Sonya Pritzker demonstrates the "living translation" of Chinese medicine as a process unfolding through interaction, inscription, embodied experience, and clinical practice. By documenting the stream of conversations that together constitute this process, the book thus traces the translation of Chinese medicine from text to practice with an eye towards the social, political, historical, moral, and even personal dimensions involved in the transnational production of knowledge about health, illness, and the body.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-311-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-ix)
  4. Note on the Text: Transcription Conventions
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction. In Search of Resonance
    (pp. 1-18)

    I am sitting in a classroom along with about fifteen students who have just begun their four-year program at a school of Oriental Medicine in Southern California. At the end of this program, the students will take both state and national licensing exams to become practitioners of acupuncture and herbal medicine, along with—as they see fit to incorporate—Chinese medical massage, nutrition, and exercise. The teacher, a young non-Chinese speaking Caucasian man who himself has been licensed for about five years, launches into an extensive explanation of why translators who use the term “meridian” to translate the Chinese term...

  6. CHAPTER 1 The Real Chinese Medicine
    (pp. 19-54)

    To attempt to define Chinese medicine is to become immediately embroiled in a complex web of sociocultural and historical circumstances stretching from the eighteenth century B.C. to the present, from Tibet to Mongolia to India to Europe to China and back again. Several renowned scholars have taken steps toward filling in pieces of this history, showing how the various practices and theories that comprise what is now understood as Chinese medicine have developed alongside vast political and social changes in China, and beyond, for several thousands of years (Furth 1999; Hinrichs and Barnes 2013; Kuriyama 1994; Scheid 2002, 2007; Sivin...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Ideas about Words, and Words about Ideas
    (pp. 55-86)

    With the understanding of historical, institutional, moral, and material landscapes provided by the last chapter, this chapter looks more deeply at ideologies of language and translation in Chinese medicine. By ideologies of language, I am talking here about “any sets of beliefs about language articulated by the users as a rationalization or justification of perceived language structure and use” (Silverstein 1979: 193). I am talking, in other words, about what people in contemporary Chinese medicine think language is and how they understand what languagedoesandshould do,that is, how the use (or nonuse) of language is justified. By...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Living Inscription in Chinese Medicine
    (pp. 87-115)

    This chapter begins the in-depth examination of the enactment of translation in Chinese medicine by looking specifically at inscriptions—texts—as they are mediated by the diverse historical, institutional, and moral circumstances of both author and audience. Although the focus is on the enactment of translation through writing, the notion of living translation lies at the heart of this discussion. And so while Ricœur argues that texts must be approached as fixed records wherein meaning is detached from the original, fleeting situation and cemented in a written form (Ricœur 1976), in this chapter I discuss how texts in Chinese medicine...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Interaction in the Living Translation of Chinese Medicine
    (pp. 116-144)

    In the last chapter, I demonstrate that textuality in Chinese medicine is a richly interdiscursive and lively process, a mode of social action (Hanks 1989) that is ongoing as authors create texts as conversations with past, present, and future practice. I also introduced the notion of textual indeterminacy that resides in the various ways in which students, as the primary users of texts, become involved with their books (Sterponi 2004, 2007). Such involvement unfolds as a deeply personal, social interaction with the language of the texts, a learning how to listen where meaning emerges in concert with contact with texts...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Embodied Experience in the Living Translation of Chinese Medicine
    (pp. 145-160)

    In this chapter, I examine the “embodied experience” phase of living translation. By showing several ethnographic examples of how specific Chinese terms are interpreted and learned vis-à-vis embodied experience, I demonstrate how embodiment, which some claim can be understood as the “existential ground” of language in general (Csordas 1994), is also the existential ground of living translation. In offering these examples, I demonstrate translation as an extended process by which meanings of terms and concepts are transmitted and transformed across cultural and linguistic boundaries. From morally and socially motivated choices made in inscription to dialogues that occur about such textual...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Living Translation in and into Practice
    (pp. 161-186)

    Throughout this book, I have shown how the search for resonance in U.S. Chinese medicine emerges in the living translation of texts and practices. Apparent in inscriptions, conversations, and moments of embodied engagement, this search for resonance weaves together morally situated desires for authenticity with culturally grounded notions of healing in everyday practices of reading, writing, and teaching about Chinese medicine. In this chapter, I further show how the living translation of Chinese medicine carries forth in the practice of acupuncture, herbal prescription, and the pursuit of effective treatments that are resonant with patients’ conditions. In a very basic sense,...

  12. Conclusion. Learning to Listen
    (pp. 187-191)

    In this text, I have elaborated upon the notion of living translation as an ongoing stream of personal, social, and cultural activity, a process of contentious debate, of searching for resonance, of creative inscription, of interaction with texts and teachers, peers and patients, as well as an embodied, self-oriented experience of language learning. A process of practice. Visible in the multiple, deeply felt tensions between CAM and biomedicine, classical Chinese medicine and TCM, language and experience, living translation emerges in inscriptions in texts as well as in classroom contexts where teachers use translation talk to position themselves as authorities with...

  13. References
    (pp. 192-208)
  14. Index
    (pp. 209-209)