Research Project

Between State and Community: Public Health Campaigns and Local Healing Practice in socialist Asia

Principal Investigator
Dr Xun Zhou
This research project was funded by the European Union between 2014 and 2018, and compared two important and hitherto under-researched Chinese health-care campaigns.

In this major project, funded by the European Union between 2014 and 2018, Dr Xun Zhou compared two hitherto under-researched Chinese health-care campaigns, which were undertaken under Mao Zedong: the Barefoot Doctor Campaign and the Anti-Schistosomiasis Campaign.

A comparison of the latter, a top-down initiative with a biomedical ‘magic bullet’ to deliver, with the former, a more general public health campaign focused on education, hygiene and the provision of basic health care, brought out the complex interactions between local everyday health strategies and state provision of both modern allopathic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Using both party archives and newly collected oral interviews, the project moved away from a narrow focus on party politics and policy formulation by examining the reality of health care at the local level and the challenges faced by local authorities and individuals as the campaigns evolved. The project developed a more nuanced understanding of Chinese approaches to health and also contributed to global health policy debates.

Student in Square 4 circa 1972
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