China and Inner Asia
As COVID bubbled hidden in Wuhan before bursting into global disaster, observers wondered if China would do it again - early negligence followed by effective all-out war against the disease. During the Mao era, 1949-1976, policies like the Great Leap Forward created immense catastrophes, even as China’s unique mass health campaigns almost doubled its longevity. In 1978, China’s strategies became a global model incorporated into the WHO’s transformative Declaration on Primary Health Care at Alma Ata. In the Reform era, after initially neglecting its public health system and mismanaging the 2003 SARS outbreak, China’s leadership eventually ran an exceedingly effective disease control campaign, a pattern replicated in the early stages of COVID. How and to what extent do China’s novel, highly political disease emergency management systems actually work; and how have they changed from the Mao era to now? How does China combine mass campaigns with advanced science and technology? To explore these dynamics over time and across disciplines, historian Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley analyzes top-down and grassroots strategies for addressing the women’s health crisis during the 1958-1962 famine, while historian Fang Xiaoping explores the melding of vaccine technologies, epidemiology, and high-level politics used to stop three Mao era pandemics. Next, anthropologist Lyle Fearnley examines the nexus of virology, veterinary medicine, and health governance strategies employed to control wet markets and the wild animal trade, a key spillover zone for zoonotic diseases. Finally, anthropologist Katherine Mason explores how SARS transformed the Chinese public health model, shaping China’s current response to COVID.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley – San Diego State University
Virtual Paper Presenter: Xiaoping Fang – Nanyang Technological University
Virtual Paper Presenter: Lyle Fearnley – Singapore University of Technology and Design
Virtual Paper Presenter: Katherine Mason – Brown University