Eating Spring Rice: The Cultural Politics of AIDS in Southwest China
Sandra Teresa Hyde
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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.
of unsterilized syringes, but other factors remained veiled (Wang N. 1991; V. Li et al. 1992; Sun Xinhua, Nan, and Guo 1994; Cheng Hehe et al. 1996; Cheng Hehe, Zhang, Pan, Jia, et al. 2000). Although the Chinese epidemic may be transmitted and experienced by local bodies, many Chinese view HIV/AIDS as not only a foreign disease but also a “barbaric” one. As I noted in the introduction, the notion of the disease as “barbarian” has to do with the way that HIV/AIDS first appeared in the minority
announcements on all the flights, and free condoms in hotel rooms?” He replied, “That would be impossible.” As a final point, I question why an epidemiologist would treat HIV/AIDS as a problem for the border police rather than one of behavioral practice. Yunnan had a population of 44,152,000 in 2003, including twentyfive of China’s fifty-five officially recognized ethnic minority groups (Yunnan Provincial Bureau of Statistics 2005a). The Greater Mekong Subregional (GMS) development
said that difficulties surrounding the use of condoms for HIV/AIDS prevention reflected the Chinese saying “Zhiqi ran, bu zhiqi suoyi ran” (One knows what something is but does not understand its purpose). In other words, people may recognize that HIV/AIDS exists but not know how it is transmitted or understand the infectious nature of the disease. Furthermore, the market-oriented health prevention policy has prompted local health stations to move toward financial independence by generating
sector. Thus the state’s role in disease prevention, and now HIV/AIDS prevention, was augmented and in many instances taken over by international health NGOs working in China. One may argue that transnational NGOs and their development agents prop up the state by injecting their own international agendas into China, providing seed money for HIV/AIDS prevention projects; however, through the power of their organizations they redefine the terrain of everyday AIDS practices (see Pandolfi 2003).
Infection by Province, 1985–1995 4 5 9 figures 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Annual Reported Cases of HIV/AIDS in China, 1995–2003 HIV Infections by Risk Group, 2002 HIV Modes of Transmission, 2003 HIVϩ and AIDS Cases in Seven Counties in Yunnan Province, 1997 Distribution of AIDS by Ethnic Group in Yunnan Province, 1990 and 1999 Persons with HIV/AIDS by World Region, End of 2003 46 47 48 50 51 195 ix Tables 1. 2. 3. The Seven Tiers of the Sex Industry in China Official HIV/AIDS Statistics Reported