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The Anthropology of Modern China: Chinese Cultural Citizenship in Yunnan
This program is designed for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in experiencing and understanding everyday life in modern China. The program presents the opportunity to do this through addressing how Chinese cultural citizenship is constructed in Yunnan Province, which is the most ethnically diverse province in China, and which is literally located at the margins of the modern Chinese state. Students gain insights into Yunnan both through living for more than four weeks in Kunming, the vibrant metropolitan capital of Yunnan, and through spending a week at the end of the course traveling to the spectacularly beautiful mountainous (and minority) areas of northwestern Yunnan. Students additionally gain insights into Yunnan through the reading of a number of excellent ethnographic books and articles by a new generation of China anthropologists writing on Yunnan. Intellectually, students engage with contemporary anthropological thinking about cultural citizenship, national identity vis-à-vis ethnicity, gender and rurality in China, as well as how the citizen body is constructed in the Chinese nation-state through such medical knowledges as Chinese medicine, biomedicine and dietary practices.
Yunnan is the southwestern-most province of China and borders Tibet, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. It is culturally and ecologically diverse, with the three major rivers of southeast Asia (the Salween, the Red River and the Mekong), as well as a major tributary of the Yangtze River (the Jinsha), flowing from the Tibetan plateau in the northwest of Yunnan through deep gorges to the south, southwest and northeast parts of the province. Fifty percent of China's herbal medicines are harvested and produced from Yunnan's richly diverse ecosystems, constituted by mountains (many over 18,000 feet), river gorges and basins. Twenty-six of the 56 official "minority nationalities" of China reside in Yunnan, many of them in the more remote mountainous, river gorge and basin areas of the province, and ethnic minorities constitute one third of Yunnan's approximately 43 million population.
Kunming, a relatively "small" Chinese city of nearly six million residents, is referred to within China as the “City of Eternal Spring,” given its nearly ideal climate, which is due to its 6,000-foot elevation combined with its subtropical latitude. Historically, Kunming has been the capital of Yunnan province ever since Yunnan was incorporated into the Chinese state by Kublai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty (approximately a thousand years ago) and became part of the southern silk route from ancient Xian to south and southeast Asia. Kunming was one of the few major cities that was not occupied by Japan during World War II and became the locale where the key Chinese universities were relocated during the war, as well as where the renowned "Flying Tigers" from the U.S. were based. Kunming remains one of the most pleasant cities in China. The program is based at the Teacher's University (Shi Fan Daxue), formerly the historical "United University" (Lian Da) during WWII, in the heart of the university district and near the lovely historic Green Lake Park section of the city.
Both undergraduate and graduate students register for a total of six credits, although the coursework requirements for graduate students are greater than for undergraduates. Undergraduates enroll in Anthropology 2374 (3 cr) and Anthropology 4397 (3 cr). Undergraduates who wish to earn Asian studies credit may enroll in Asian Studies 2374 (3 cr) and Asian Studies 3096 (3 cr). Graduate students enroll in Anthropology 8310 (3 cr) and Anthropology 8320 (3 cr).
Students read ethnographies (or anthropological case studies about specific locales) for each course, supplemented by a number of ethnographic journal articles and book chapters. Coursework consists of concise critical reviews of each ethnography, as well as an intellectual journal and a final critical paper that synthesizes readings and experiences for each course. Detailed course syllabi are available upon request from the program director, Dr. White.
Anthropology 2374/8310: The Anthropology of Modern China/Problems in Sociocultural Anthropology: Ethnicity and Cultural Citizenship in Yunnan (3 cr)
Anthropology 4397/8320: Advanced Seminar in Medical Anthropology/Problems in Ethnology: The Anthropology of Chinese Medicines (3 cr)
Elisabeth Hsu's The Transmission of Chinese Medicine (1999), Sandra Hyde's Eating Spring Rice: The Cultural Politics of AIDS in Southwest China (2007), and Sydney White's Medicines and Modernities in Socialist China: Public Health, Medical Knowledges and Naxi Cultural Citizenship in Yunnan's Lijiang Basin (book manuscript).The undergraduate course is cross-listed with Asian Studies 3096. Note: For Temple University undergraduates, this is a core Writing Intensive course. Also for Temple University students, this course meets the requirements of a capstone seminar for the human biology track of the undergraduate anthropology major.
Dr. Sydney White is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University. Dr. White, a sociocultural anthropologist, medical anthropologist and China scholar, received her PhD from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1993. She has cumulatively lived and conducted more than five years of research in Yunnan, starting in 1981. Dr. White has published numerous articles on the politics of cultural identities and medical practices in Yunnan's Lijiang basin, as well as on the contours of Chinese socialist modernity.
In addition to the items above, students should budget money for health insurance, personal travel, and any additional personal expenses.
Dates are tentative and subject to change
Saturday field trips in and around Kunming are planned throughout the first four weeks of the program. In the final week, the group travels northwest from Kunming to Dali and Lijiang, areas about which students will have read ethnographic accounts and which are characterized by spectacular mountain and basic scenery.
While in Kunming, students live in a foreign student dormitory in the University District of Kunming. Students take their meals at local restaurants or at local university dining halls.
A limited number of homestays may be available for students with prior background in Chinese language and/or culture. Students interested in applying for a homestay should consult with the program director, Dr. White.
During the excursion to northwestern Yunnan, students stay in modest hotels, and meals are provided.
Please see General Summer Information to read about pre-departure information and orientation; passports and visas; scholarships; costs and payment policies; accreditation; and transfer of credits.
Please see Eligibility and Application Procedures for program eligibility, application requirements, and application procedures that apply to all summer programs. In addition, for the China program, the following is required:
For more information, please contact Dr. Sydney White, Department of Anthropology, Temple University, 215-204-7774, email@example.com.