Fluid Labor and Blood Money: The Economy of HIV/AIDS in Rural Central China

Peer Reviewed


China Daily, "HIV/AIDS."

"Fluid Labor and Blood Money" portrays several overlapping levels of the circulation of human plasma, the origins and consequences of the HIV epidemic, and the author's own involvement in the aftermath during his fieldwork starting in 2003. This ethnographically grounded study of an epidemic shows that “biotechnology broadly defined can be powerfully refracted by local configurations of economy, technology, and social relations” in China’s liberalized economy.

This year's doctoral student jury--Joanna Davidson (Emory U), Maria McMath (Princeton U) and Erkan Saka (Rice U)--writes that the article, "combines rich ethnographic detail and vivid portrayals of real lives with broad and cogent historical, social, economic and cultural analyses. SHAO Jing demonstrates that one mode of ethnographic writing need not be sacrificed or constrained by the other. The writing style is refreshingly clear and powerful; he offers complex theoretical analyses without resorting to obscurantist language. He writes simply and intimately, without giving in to sentimentality or casting characters as “victims” and “perpetrators.” Likewise, he masterfully explores how global neo-liberal policies impact local communities, going well beyond conventional evocations of neoliberalism and simple, suggestive links between the global and the local . . . . SHAO Jing’s article represents the best of a critical, engaged, and imaginative cultural anthropology."

Editor's Footnotes

Cultural Anthropology has published several other articles on HIV/AIDS. See, for example, Leslie Butt’s “‘Lipstick Girls’ and ‘Fallen Women’: AIDS and Conspiratorial Thinking in Papua, Indonesia” (2005), Ann Julienne Russ’ “Love's Labor Paid for: Gift and Commodity at the Threshold of Death” (2005), and Stacy Leigh Pigg’s “Languages of Sex and AIDS in Nepal: Notes on the Social Production of Commensurability” (2001).

Cultural Anthropology has also published articles on China’s economy, including Judith Farquhar and Qicheng Zhang’s “Biopolitical Beijing: Pleasure, Sovereignty, and Self-Cultivation in China's Capital” (2005), Yan Hairong’s “Neoliberal Governmentality and Neohumanism: Organizing Suzhi/Value Flow through Labor Recruitment Networks” (2003), and Ellen Oxfeld’s “Individualism, Holism, and the Market Mentality: Notes on the Recollections of a Chinese Entrepreneur” (1992).

Related Links

Plasma Products Biotechnology Meeting 2001

World Health Organization

China Central TV

“AIDS Activist Mobilises Press Over Ditan Hospital Drug Trials” - China Development Brief“

Chinese Health Official Arrested for Leaking AIDS Secrets” – The Body

AVERT – China

The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource


The Blood of Yingzhou District (Trailer)

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