Feeling the qi: Emergent bodies and disclosive fields in American appropriations of acupuncture
Emad, Mitra Clara
Doctor of Philosophy
The ethnographic core of this dissertation is comprised of the body stories of American acupuncturists and their clients. I posit a notion of embodiment based on "feeling the qi." A unique bodily sensation during acupuncture treatments, "feeling the qi" also opens up the relationship between embodiment and storytelling. This is a paradigm of embodiment that is enacted in a process of disclosure and requires a revision of the notion of appropriation. The four central chapters are structured in terms of four relational bodies of appropriation: social bodies of translation, technocratic bodies, mediating bodies, and emergent bodies. I open with social bodies as the discursive realm of making sense of bodily being, in that social bodies trace the "translating channels" through which acupuncture is culturally translated into American contexts. Technocratic bodies exert control and act as general gatekeepers in biomedicine's encounters with acupuncture. Acupuncture practitioners are mediating bodies within the social realm in which practitioners, clients, technocracies, and emergent bodies all encounter one another. Emergent bodies in the stories of individual clients of acupuncture evoke thematics of gender, care, partnership, and bodily recovery. This dance of translative, technocratic, mediating, and emergent bodies revises conventional abstractions of "the body" as a metaphor. "Feeling the qi," initiates a movement in this dissertation through these four storied and relational bodies of appropriation, closing with an analysis of issues of positioning and reflexivity.
American studies; Cultural anthropology; Anthropology