China and Inner Asia
This panel demonstrates how literary and media studies can contribute to the Chinese health humanities by reconfiguring the dynamics between disease and difference. From a constructivist perspective, disease is historically constituted by structural hierarchies, symptomizing existing boundaries that mark our differences in geopolitics, race, class, gender/sexuality, and ability. As an agent embedded in the healthcare assemblage, however, disease can also be approached as a productive force that transcends hardened boundaries inherent in sociopolitical division and exclusion. While loosening the hold of political anatomy over subject formation, it can enact heterogeneous alliances across fault lines of difference. Pain, like viruses, does not recognize borders.
Spanning the socialist era to the present day, the panel investigates the boundary-crossing agency of pain in mental distress, terminal disease, and the global pandemic in China and the Sinophone world. Roy Chan locates healing from gender traumas, conventionally framed in light of neoliberal individualism, within the revolutionary commitment in transnational socialist bildungsromans. Keren He reads the morbid prospect of cancer in Taiwanese pathography as an opportunity to disidentify from dualistic political allegiance beyond the China-Taiwan Divide. Chris Berry examines the cinematic language of suicidal depression, cultivating empathy toward marginalized emotional and social experiences hitherto lost in medical research. Belinda Kong reveals how online affective eruption against anti-Asian crimes during COVID facilitates cross-racial sociality while illuminating intersectional blindspots regarding class. Collectively, we establish a shift from a representational to a relational approach to address the entanglement of disease and difference as moments that can heal.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Roy Chan – University of Oregon
Virtual Paper Presenter: Keren He – Dickinson College
Virtual Paper Presenter: Chris Berry – King's College London
Virtual Paper Presenter: Belinda Kong – Bowdoin College