Revolutionizing Health in Modern China

HKU Course: Revolutionizing Health in Modern China

This survey course investigates the intersections of health, politics, and culture in the People’s Republic of China (1949 to the present). We will first investigate how the Communist revolution transformed Chinese health care during the Maoist era, focusing on patriotic health campaigns, the standardization of traditional Chinese medicine, and the barefoot doctor program. We will then examine how the subsequent Reform and Opening era impacted health and disease, paying close attention to growing differences between rural and urban regions. We will probe the sociopolitical logics of reproductive control, the uneven privatization of health care, and the growing intersection of infectious disease and health inequalities. In the final part of the course, we will explore emerging political and moral economies of health in the contemporary period. Topics in this section include the linkages between environmental pollution and cancer, the growing mental health epidemic, and the globalization of biotechnology and experimental medicine. Students will have the opportunity to engage in original research by conducting oral history interviews on Chinese experiences of health seeking and illness.