"Refashioning the Self through New Therapeutics in Urban China"

Institute Colloquium Winter 2012/13

  • Date: Oct 11, 2012
  • Time: 02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Li Zhang (University of California, Davis)
  • Prof. Dr. Li Zhang received her doctoral degree in anthropology from Cornell University in 1998 and a M.A. degree in social relations from UC Irvine in 1993. Before coming to the U.S., she studied Chinese literature and literary theory at Peking University and received her B.A. and first M.A. there. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University (1998-1999).
  • Location: MPI-MMG, Hermann-Föge-Weg 11, Göttingen
  • Room: Library Hall
"Refashioning the Self through New Therapeutics in Urban China"

For more details please contact buethe(at)mmg.mpg.de.

A new mass psychological counseling movement is unfolding in contemporary China. In this talk I explore how, through this movement, middle-class Chinese seek to refashion “the self” (ziwo) by turning it into an object of intense inquiry and pursuing personal development and fulfillment through therapeutic projects centered on the notion of self-management. This new therapeutic work is contributing to intricate forms of urban subject-making that challenge a set of simple binaries: the private versus social self, the inner versus outer life, psychological versus social problems. Further, while this new regime of the self seems to bear certain neoliberal traits, it ironically dovetails with the state’s project of building a harmonious society in post-reform China.

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