Sonya Pritzker’s co-authored article (with Kiki Q. Y. Liang) “Semiotic Collisions and the Metapragmatics of Culture Change in Dr. Song Yujin’s ‘Chinese Medical Psychology’” has just been published in The Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 43-66 (2018) and is attached below.
This paper is about interaction in the clinic of Dr. Song Yujin, a physician who practices “Chinese medical psychology” in Beijing, China. In particular, we highlight how Dr. Song challenges deep-seated ideas about family, personhood, and healing among his patients. Through close study of one interaction that Dr. Song has with a patient and her family, we demonstrate how Dr. Song draws upon prosody, gaze, teaching talk, and terminology to construct a local metapragmatic framework within which his utterances, gestures, and other semiotic devices can be interpreted as appropriate and familiar yet also strange and challenging. By examining Dr. Song’s approach as it occurs in a contentious clinical “border zone” involving texts, bodies, and medical practices, we demonstrate how an emphasis on the micropolitics of interaction in specific clinical contexts can complement the scholarly study of cultural, social, medical, and personal change over time. This approach, we argue, has broad implications for the ways in which linguistic anthropology can contribute to the ethnographic study of cultural change as it emerges in complex interactions that often hinge on the tension between cooperation and resistance.