On 24 May, 2019, Erin Thomason and I hosted a psychological anthropology workshop at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen, China. The workshop was called Moral Technologies: Expertise and the Self in China. In a rapidly changing Chinese society, when people seek guidance about raising children, managing relationships, and becoming successful, they often turn to psychological and medical professionals. These experts are affecting how people in China understand themselves, and the ways in which they try to establish a good life.
This workshop brought together scholars who are studying topics including emotions, morality, mental health, families, self-help, and medicalized subjectivity in contemporary China. In addition to several scholars from SUSTech, participants came from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Brigham Young University, East China University of Science and Technology, East China Normal University, and the University of Otago.
Before the workshop, participants circulated a one-to-two page explanation of an ongoing
research or writing project: this allowed everyone to become familiar with each other’s current research before the workshop began. Participants were then able to use the workshop as an opportunity for mutual feedback and in-depth conversations.
This event was among the first psychological anthropology workshops in China. As this field of inquiry continues to grow, I look forward to more opportunities to meet people and exchange ideas.