I n t ro d u c t I o n
This book is an ethnography of translocal knowledge pro-
duction. In it I write about how dynamic forms of tradi-
tional Chinese medicine emerge through particular kinds of
encounters and entanglements, which also produce uneven
visions, understandings, and practices of what makes up the
world and our places in it. Conventional depictions of tradi-
tional Chinese medicine have often assumed it to be an en-
during system of therapeutic knowledge marked by unique
attributes, a system which in recent years has been swept up
by globalization. I highlight this point instead: what we have
come to call “traditional Chinese medicine” is made through—
rather than prior to—various translocal encounters and from
discrepant locations.1
When acupuncture needles enter the skin and when herbal
soups are ingested, they do more than adjust the flow of qi,
generate endorphins, or release a variety of active pharma-
ceutical ingredients; they also conjure specific and powerful
imaginaries of our worlds. An anthropological inquiry into
the shifting discourses and practices of Chinese medicine re-
quires venturing into meaningful projects of mapping, tem-
poralizing, and positioning that produce irreducibly complex
and contingent everyday socialities that traverse and ex-
ceed the confines of “knowledge” as a contained or con-
tainable epistemological domain. This ethnography is thus
translocal and multi-sited, not only because it comes out of
my fieldwork both inside and outside of clinics and schools
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