The charismatic form of healing called qigong, based on meditative breathing exercises, has achieved enormous popularity in China during the last two decades. Qigong served a critical social organizational function, as practitioners formed new informal networks, sometimes on an international scale, at a time when China was shifting from state-subsidized medical care to for-profit market medicine. The emergence of new psychological states deemed to be deviant led the Chinese state to "medicalize" certain forms while championing scientific versions of qigong. By contrast, qigong continues to be promoted outside China as a traditional healing practice. Breathing Spaces brings to life the narratives of numerous practitioners, healers, psychiatric patients, doctors, and bureaucrats, revealing the varied and often dramatic ways they cope with market reform and social changes in China.
Nancy N. Chen is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A medical anthropologist, she also teaches courses on food, ethnographic film, urban anthropology, China, and Asian Americans.
Preface 1. Introduction 2. Fever 3. Riding the Tiger 4. Qigong Deviation or Psychosis 5. Chinese Psychiatry and the Search for Order 6. Mandate of Science 7. Transnational Qigong 8. Suffering and Healing Glossary