Chaos on the Ground: schistosomiasis control in China, 1950-1964
The anti-schistosomiasis campaign (from 1950s to the long 1970s) in Mao’s China was the most celebrated showcase of the People’s Republic of China’s socialist war on diseases. It was the epitome of the communist state’s political commitment to transform the backward (synonymous as the diseased) countryside through education as well as the mass participation in public health. Using heretofore unexplored local archival sources as well as oral interviews from those who participated in the campaign, this talk sheds insights on local responses to the central government’s urgency regarding schistosomiasis control, and the many complexities of the hasty implementing such a massive scale public health campaign. By bringing those directly impacted back into history, and seeing them as active participants of the campaign, this talk shows how great designs on paper turned into makeshift solutions with little resemblance to the original project as soon as it encountered human reality.