This talk examines the relationships between epidemic control and social control during the global cholera pandemic that plagued the southeastern coastal areas of Mao’s China between 1961 and 1965, when China was suffering from lingering starvation, class struggles, political campaigns and the geopolitical challenges of the Cold War. The speaker argues that the cholera pandemic was more than just a health incident in China—it was, more importantly, a significant social and political exercise. The interventionist prevention scheme, including lockdown, quarantine, isolation, mass inoculation, epidemic surveillance and information control, was affected by the social restructuring that had begun in the 1950s and was strengthened after 1961. Conversely, these interventionalist measures functionalised social control and prompted experimentation with possible alternative social structures. Therefore, they significantly contributed to the rise of an emergency disciplinary state, which exerted far-reaching impacts on socio-political systems and emergency responses.
About the Speaker
Fang Xiaoping is an Associate Professor of Chinese Studies in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, Australia. His research interests focus on the history of medicine, health, and epidemics in twentieth-century China and the socio-political history of Mao’s China after 1949. He is the author of Barefoot Doctors and Western Medicine in China (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2012) and China and the Cholera Pandemic: Restructuring Society under Mao (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021).
About the Chair
Rama V. Baru is Professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and an Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi, India. She is also an Honorary Professor at the India Studies Centre, Central China Normal University, Wuhan. Her major areas of research interest include commercialisation of health services, infectious diseases, comparative health systems and health inequalities. She is author of several books including Private Health Care in India: Social Characteristics and Trends (1998); Medical Insurance Schemes for the Poor: Who Benefits (2015), (co-authored with Madhurima Nundy) Commercialisation of Medical Care in China: Changing Landscapes (2020). She is currently a member of various committees in institutions such as All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Department of Health Research, the Ministry of Health and Indian Council of Medical Research.
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