Cigarette Citadels Remapping Theory and Policy: Cigarette Factories in and Outside of China

Matthew Kohrman, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Senior Fellow at FSI,Stanford University

RSVP required by 5PM January 27

At present, the tobacco industry produces some six trillion cigarettes worldwide every year.  Six trillion cigarettes per annum, each ready to release smoke filled with highly addictive nicotine and powerful carcinogens.  A third of all these sticks were produced in China last year.  In 2011, the world’s largest cigarette maker by volume, the China National Tobacco Corporation, contributed an all-time high of US$214 billion in profits and taxes to the Chinese government, up 22 percent year-on-year.   Currently the greatest cause of preventable death in the world, the cigarette is likely to kill ten times as many people in the 21st century as it did in the 20th century, epidemiologists tell us, with China bearing the largest burden.  Until now, much global health research and intervention has focused with limited success on the cigarette consumer – addressing how one or another variable prompts people to take up or quit smoking, whether the cue for the consumer is biological, psychological, spatial, financial or symbolic.  What though of the industrial sources of tobacco-related diseases?   Where are the six trillion cigarettes that are released into circulation each year manufactured?  Where are they rolled, wrapped, and boxed for shipment?  This presentation will introduce the Cigarette Citadels project, an innovative application of participatory GIS.  With special attention given to China’s network of cigarette factories, Prof. Kohrman will explain how the Cigarette Citadels project not only reveals conceptual roadblocks in public health policy but also lacuna in social theory pertaining to the state and the politics of life.   Please feel free to take a look at the Cigarette Citadels website and map – – before attending this talk.

Matthew Kohrman joined Stanford’s faculty in 1999. His research and writing bring multiple methods to bear on the ways health, culture, and politics are interrelated. Focusing on the People's Republic of China, he engages various intellectual terrains such as governmentality, gender theory, political economy, critical science studies, and embodiment. His first monograph, Bodies of Difference: Experiences of Disability and Institutional Advocacy in the Making of Modern China, examines links between the emergence of a state-sponsored disability-advocacy organization and the lives of Chinese men who have trouble walking. In recent years, Kohrman has been conducting research projects aimed at analyzing and intervening in the biopolitics of cigarette smoking and production. These projects expand upon analytical themes of Kohrman’s disability research and engage in novel ways techniques of public health.

A Seminar Series of the Stanford China Program and the Center for East Asian Studies

The 'rise of China' has become the preoccupation of policy makers, academics, and business leaders from the United States and Japan to Europe. But as Bloomberg News argued in a recent editorial, "they should be more concerned about what happens if the country's growth falters." A China whose growth is slowing would mean a China with less capital to invest, at home and globally, and whose markets and economy would be less able to provide an engine of growth for others, close at hand in Asia and in North America and Europe.

This series of seminars will examine the multitude of challenges now facing the Chinese leadership as they struggle to shift the dynamic of the economy away from its dependence on now shrinking export markets towards increasing demand and consumption at home. Those challenges range from rising inflation, fiscal imbalances, a real estate bubble and struggles over land, growing income inequality, to inadequate health care and pension systems, even to labor shortages. All these must be faced as China faces an important year of political transition to a new leadership, amidst more visible strains on the country's social fabric.

Monday, January 30, 2012 | 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Stanford China Program, Shorenstein APARC
Center for East Asian Studies