Book Details

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    • June 2003
    • 9780231128056
  • 256 Pages
  • Paperback
  • $32.00


    • June 2003
    • 9780231128049
  • 256 Pages
  • Hardcover
  • $95.00


    • June 2003
    • 9780231502214
  • 256 Pages
  • E-book
  • $31.99

Breathing Spaces

Qigong, Psychiatry, and Healing in China

Nancy N. Chen

The charismatic form of healing called qigong, based on meditative breathing exercises, has achieved enormous popularity in China during the last two decades. Qigong served a critical social organizational function, as practitioners formed new informal networks, sometimes on an international scale, at a time when China was shifting from state-subsidized medical care to for-profit market medicine. The emergence of new psychological states deemed to be deviant led the Chinese state to "medicalize" certain forms while championing scientific versions of qigong. By contrast, qigong continues to be promoted outside China as a traditional healing practice. Breathing Spaces brings to life the narratives of numerous practitioners, healers, psychiatric patients, doctors, and bureaucrats, revealing the varied and often dramatic ways they cope with market reform and social changes in China.

About the Author

Nancy N. Chen is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A medical anthropologist, she also teaches courses on food, ethnographic film, urban anthropology, China, and Asian Americans.

For readers sometimes puzzled by recent mind-body movements in China and responses by central and regional governments, Chen's clear and scholarly presentation will prove most helpful. This book becomes even more important now that the movement and others like it have spread globally, including to Europe, the New World, and the US. Highly recommended.

The book's originality lies both in its focus on the medicalization process and psychiatry, and in a theoretically innovative approach based on the medicalization process and psychiatry, and in a theoretically innovative approach based on the concepts of body politics and spaces.... Breathing Spaces is incontestably a very valuable contribution to medical anthropology and religious studies in the context of Chinese culture, and to global cultural studies.

Evelyne Micollier

Preface1. Introduction2. Fever3. Riding the Tiger4. Qigong Deviation or Psychosis5. Chinese Psychiatry and the Search for Order6. Mandate of Science7. Transnational Qigong8. Suffering and HealingGlossary