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Lecture: "Transforming Information into Knowledge: Drugs, Violence and Healing in Southwest China"
Department of Anthropology
Transforming Information into Knowledge: Drugs, Violence and Healing in Southwest China
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Since the 1990s, the Kachin in Southwest China have undergone a crisis of HIV/AIDS and drug use. Various governmental and international prevention programs elicit no behavioral response that might hold back the increasing rates of drug use, whereas villagers work with local government officials to design and carry out locally sensitive and effective rehabilitation programs for drug users. As a result, the crisis in the early 2000s had been largely controlled by 2011 in my fieldwork base. Based on my 29 months of fieldwork, I explore why government and international projects were ineffective while the local projects worked. In the local rehabilitation programs, individual rehabilitation is guaranteed by governmental violence, and violence is moderated by drug users’ new identity making. I analyze how such collaboration between violence and rehabilitation transforms public health information, available to everybody, into knowledge vital and urgent for certain individuals to act on. I also propose a perspective for integrating the psycho-somatic dynamics of individual healing/rehabilitation and the socio-political processes of drug use in Southwest China.
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