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American Chinese Medicine

Phan, Tyler; (2017) American Chinese Medicine. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the power structures which shape Chinese medicine in the United States. Chinese medicine had two incarnations: migrant Chinese practice and its professionalized form. From the 1880s to the 1940s, Chinese medicine was practiced by the Chinese diaspora to serve their communities and non-Chinese settler populations. From the 1970s onward, Chinese medicine professionalized under the agency of acupuncture. Through the regulation of acupuncture, groups of predominately white Americans began to create standards of practice based on the enactment of what I have referred to as “orientalized biopower.” Orientalized biopower is the process where America’s predominately white counterculture began to encompass an orientalism which romanticized a form of Chinese medicine constructed in the 1950s by the People’s Republic of China called Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). With the adoption of TCM in the United States, they also formulated measures which marginalized Asian Americans practitioners. The profession then labelled itself as “Oriental Medicine” embodying Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism. Along with this form of orientalism, the counterculture used the State to push for a standardized epistemology of TCM. In return, the State encompassed standardized Chinese medicine as element of biopower. My research is informed by a cross-country ethnography of schools, regulatory bodies, and private practices around North America. Through my investigation, I discover the power structures of Chinese medicine, contained within the regulatory bodies and schools, are mostly dominated by white Americans. Combined, they construct a profession and determine the “legitimate” and “illegitimate” forms of Chinese medicine, which constitutes the criteria for who can and cannot practice legally in the country.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: American Chinese Medicine
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1571107
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