Does It Take a Miracle? Negotiating Knowledges, Identities, and Communities of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

In the following discussions, I examine the sociohistorical contexts and clinical encounters through which "miracles" are produced, as well as the ways in which differently situated people strategically invoke and interpret these "miracles" to negotiate knowledge and authority in professional and broader social networks. In tracing the multiple trajectories and meanings of "clinical miracles" in the everyday practice and discourse of traditional Chinese medicine in Shanghai and the San Francisco Bay Area, I show that it is precisely through the processes of marginali/ation and Othering in relation to "scientific," "biomedical" mainstreams that the clinical efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine becomes construed as "miracles." Furthermore, I argue that the marginality of traditional Chinese medicine is not a primordial structural position defined by a preexisting Science Proper. Rather, it is constructed and con- stantly transformed through a set of uneven, interactive sociohistorical processes of knowledge, identity, and community formation, and, at the same time, is itself a set of heterogeneous processes that mediate the transfiguration of various knowledges, identities, and communities.

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