4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Even though the United States was still a young country during the nineteenth century - where Shah begins his interweaving of public health, race, and citizenship - a strong enough sense of identity had been established to create a milieu of xenophobia with regard to non-Western cultures. In setting up the perspective of the alien as Other and tracing its influences throughout the health crises of San Francisco into the twentieth century, Shah establishes viral contamination as metaphor for cultural contamination. The threat from invaders comes not merely from their different cultural practices but also from their very biology, conflating a social threat with a physical one. White culture became the normative body by which Chinese difference was articulated.
As viruses and other contagious diseases were just beginning to be studied scientifically, some of the advancements were applied for the improvement of individuals while other advancements were used for the improvement of the society around those individuals through suppression or quarantine. A study of the maps of San Francisco that Shah provides read almost like an anatomy diagram, showing the growing cell of the foreign invader in the body politic. Maintenance of a spatial boundary, in order to control disease, transformed into maintenance of a racial boundary.
Throughout the text, Shah presents a considerable amount of evidence from many disparate sources, showing the collusion - often conscious, but sometimes not - of scientific, economic, legal, and other forces. Initially, one of the most important of the media shaped the city's perception of its Chinese foreign nationals through its articles, particularly through its use of pseudo-scientific jargon and its likening of the Chinese to vermin, another icon of plague; this also dehumanized the Chinese population by relegating them to the border spaces of civilized (white, Western) society.
Shah engages in critical debate about dominant versus subordinate social class, using his sources to illuminate developments within both Chinatown and the rest of San Francisco. By the end of Shah's text, the processes of governance transform the alien into the citizen much like the medication that can control and cure a disease, and he wonders if the ways of cultural assimilation are so strong that, in many ways, they eradicate something essential in the original individual. The patient has been saved, but at what cost?
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This was an in-depth book on how the Chinese were forced to live in SF Chinatown ethnic enclaves, and it also demonstrates how governments and their departments use institutional racism to scapegoat the Chinese when they first came to the U.S. Great book.