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Kitchen knowledge, desperate foods, and ritual healing in everyday survival strategies during the great famine in china, 1958-62

Xun, Z (2014) 'Kitchen knowledge, desperate foods, and ritual healing in everyday survival strategies during the great famine in china, 1958-62.' Asian Medicine, 7 (2). 384 - 404. ISSN 1573-420X

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Abstract

Famine is a social and economic crisis that is commonly accompanied by widespread of malnutrition, starvation, epidemic disease, and increased mortality. This paper focuses on the period of the Great Leap Famine in China between 1958 and 1962. Based on newly-collected oral interviews and archival evidence, it gives voices to ordinary villagers from different parts of China- from various counties in one of China's biggest and most populated Sichuan province in the southwest to Shandong in the east and Hunan in central China and examines their experiences and their survival strategies in times of hunger, illness, and death. It shows that an integral part of everyday famine culture, particularly in rural China, which was worst hit, concerns the kitchen knowledge and practice of healing and nutrition. Many traditional recipes that were used in previous times were rediscovered and used as everyday hunger-coping techniques. Some are dated back to the Ming dynasty-a few were recorded in Materia Medica for Famine Relief (Qiuhuang bencao c. 1406). Using the methodology of oral history set against the historical background of traditional materia medica, this paper elicits how ordinary people in rural China devised complex and plural strategies to cope with fundamental biological crises. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2104.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2014 15:45
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 15:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10563

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