Refashioning the Self through New Therapeutics in Urban China

Li Zhang, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology,University of California, Davis

A new mass psychological counseling movement is unfolding in contemporary China. In this talk Zhang explores how, through this movement, middle-class Chinese seek to refashion “the self” (ziwo) by turning it into an object of intense inquiry and pursuing personal development and fulfillment through therapeutic projects centered on the notion of self-management. This new therapeutic work is contributing to intricate forms of urban subject-making that challenge a set of simple binaries: the private versus social self, the inner versus outer life, psychological versus social problems. Further, while this new regime of the self seems to bear certain neoliberal traits, it ironically dovetails with the state’s project of building a harmonious society in post-reform China.

Thursday, March 08, 2012 | 4:15 pm — 5:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Center for East Asian Studies