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Who owns my body? : the traumatic narratives of Chinese injured migrant workers and their families in south China

Authors Tam, Pui Nga
Issue Date 2006
Summary This is an ethnographic research conducted at the hospitals in South China to investigate the social meanings of bodily pain of injured workers who have suffered from industrial accidents or contacted occupational diseases. This research also explores awareness of subjectivity. Through the injured bodies of Chinese migrant workers, we can perceive the power relations between the injured workers, patriarchal families, capitalists, medical authorities and local officials in urban China. "Who owns my body?" This is the central research question of this study. To investigate the injured experiences that the workers have encountered, twenty-four life stories have been recorded by asking open-ended questions. In this research report, four stories of the injured workers and their spouses have been articulated for studying workers' inmost thoughts and pains. In the phenomenological approach, the body is not only a physical entity, but it also carries inner self revelation and symbolic social meanings when it participates in a social content. In this research, the social body, gendered body, subjectivity and intersubjectivity are examined according to the injured bodies' life experiences. In the first story, we have looked into the relations of social body and patriarchal, capital authority. In the other three stories, we have studied gendered bodies living in the Chinese patriarchal culture, the wounded bodies suffering from the marketized and decentralized medical services and the dying bodies struggling with dominative capitalists and officials. The pain of the injured bodies reflects the power relations between migrant workers and dominative authorities, and demonstrates workers' subjectivity and the potential of intersubjectivity to confront the social pain.
Note Thesis (M.Phil.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2006
Language English
Format Thesis
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