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Topic Statement

Feb.10, 2021
Xiaohang Zhang
Topic Statement
The difficulty of formulating a thesis at this point is that I have not reviewed all relevant
literature that would land me in more certainties. For the time being, my jury-rigged researches
have thrashed out one topic that supplies my constant interest – how does the privatization of the
care industry impact the underserved communities in this ongoing pandemic? This grand
question will naturally incur herculean cognitive costs, but I will direct most of my conscious
efforts to decode how decades of lawmaking have encoded the “separate but equal” conception
into a form of structural violence that burdens vulnerable populations with a straitened access to
health care.
Again, the need to sharpen my focus looms large: the multiple axes on the social, moral,
economic or political front have been eye-straining. Nevertheless, I am proposing here an
intimation of the first-order issues for my project: how punishing austerity measures dismantles
the prophylaxes that are supposed to be in place during a pandemic; how the privatization of the
care industry has furnished the law into a tool that shifts the responsibility of care from the state
to the individual; and how has constructed a moral economy that redistributes health resources
and reassigns values around the notion of “deservingness.”
In a way my approach would be intimately similar to that of critical medical
anthropology, in that both are attempting a synthetic analysis of health inequalities. Nancy
Scheper-Hughes rightfully calls this endeavor “an anthropology of affliction” – and I am cleareyed about the asperity of it. As stated in the beginning, the present difficulties of my research
stem from the fact that I have not familiarized myself with the essential literature in the field of
medical anthropology; and I plan to use the next week– with the help of librarians and academic
databases such as the Oxford Bibliography – to get a good grasp of this field.