SOAS University of London

SOAS China Institute

Anxious China: Inner Revolution and Politics of Psychotherapy.

Anxious China
Li Zhang (Professor of Anthropology, University of California at Davis)

Date: 30 May 2022Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 30 May 2022Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar



The breathless pace of China’s economic reform has brought about deep ruptures in socioeconomic structures and people’s inner landscape. Faced with relentless market-driven competition and profound social changes, more and more middle-class urbanites are turning to Western-style psychological counseling to grapple with their mental distress. This talk is an overview and open discussion of Zhang’s newly published book - an in-depth ethnographic account of how an unfolding “inner revolution” is reconfiguring selfhood, psyche, family dynamics, sociality, and the mode of governing in post-socialist times. Zhang shows that anxiety - broadly construed in both medical and social terms - has become a powerful indicator for the general pulse of contemporary Chinese society. It is in this particular context that Zhang traces how a new psychotherapeutic culture takes root, thrives, and transforms itself across a wide-range of personal, social, and political domains.


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Anxious China: Inner Revolution and Politics of Psychotherapy

Li Zhang


Li Zhang (Ph.D. Cornell 1998) is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California-Davis. She is the author of three award-winning books: Strangers in the City (Stanford 2001), In Search of Paradise (Cornell 2010), and Anxious China: Inner Revolution and Politics of Psychotherapy (UC 2020). She is also a co-editor of Privatizing China, Socialism from Afar (Cornell 2008) and Can Science and Technology Save China? (Cornell 2020). Broadly speaking, her research concerns social, political, spatial and psychological repercussions of the market reform and socialist transformations in contemporary China. She was a 2008 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and the President of the Society of East Asian Anthropology (2013-15). She also served as Interim Dean of the Division of Social Sciences (2015-17) and Chair of Anthropology Department (2011-15) at UC Davis.


This webinar will take place online via Zoom. Click here to register.

Chair: Professor Steve Tsang (Director, SOAS China Institute)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

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