“Superb success” in ethnographic writing

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Anxious China ‘ is a fascinating exploration of the new power of psychological thought and therapy in China. Rich in comparative analyzes, the book greatly expands our cross-cultural understanding of the effects of psychological thinking on concepts of self and sociality and on the maintenance of political power in post-socialist China. – Emily Martin, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, New York University


Professor Li Zhang’s book on the rise of Western-style psychological counseling in China received an honorable mention in the 2021 Society for Humanistic Anthropology Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing Competition.

Anxious China offers an in-depth ethnographic account of how this ongoing “inner revolution” reconfigures individuality, psyche, family dynamics, sociality, and government in the post-socialist era.

Zhang’s book is “a superb achievement and is an outstanding example of some of the best ethnographic writing today, ”said Petra Rethmann, anthropologist at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and other members of the Victor Turner Prize committee.

The committee received over 110 nominations for this year’s award. The books were judged on their quality of writing, depth of engagement with ethnographic material, and intellectual contributions to the field of anthropology and ethnographic genres.

Zhang studies the cultural, spatial and psychological repercussions of market reforms and post-socialist transformations in China. She has also received awards for her books In Search of Heaven: Middle Class Life in a Chinese Metropolis (Cornell University Press, 2010) and Foreigners in the City: Reconfigurations of Space, Power, and Social Networks within China’s Floating Population (Stanford University Press, 2002).


The UC Davis Books Blog, a news and media relations project, announces newly published books by faculty and staff authors, and also includes articles on book-related events on campus. Contact the Books Blog by email.


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