Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness: Chinese Road Builders in Ethiopia sheds light on situations of contact in which disparate cultures meet and wrestle with each other in highly asymmetric relations of power. Revealing the intricate and intimate dimensions of these encounters, Driessen conceptualizes how structures of domination and subordination are reshaped on the ground. The book skillfully interrogates micro-level experiences and teases out how China’s involvement in Africa is both similar to and different from historical forms of imperialism.
“A trailblazing ethnography that at once humanizes and complicates our understanding of the China-Africa encounter. Taking us deep into the personal, social, and working life worlds of Chinese and Ethiopian construction staff and laborers, Driessen mounts a powerful challenge against the clichéd narrative of China in Africa as a case of neocolonialism masterminded by Beijing.” —Ching Kwan Lee, UCLA, author of The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa
“China rapidly transformed itself from an international aid recipient into a world-leading aid provider. This seemingly epochal shift, as this book powerfully demonstrates, is much more complex and less predictable than it appears to be. Driessen’s wonderfully perceptive ethnography and insightful analyses pave a new path in understanding ongoing global changes.” —Biao Xiang, University of Oxford, author of Global “Body Shopping”: An Indian Labor System in the Information Technology Industry
Miriam Driessen is an anthropologist and a writer of literary nonfiction. She is the author of The Restless Earth.
The Restless Earth explores the lives of communities who remain sceptical of China’s big city allure. As the traditions of the New Year bring urban dwellers back to rural Qinghe, Miriam Driessen interrogates the tensions between the proud stoicism of rural family members and the ambitions of their returning relatives. Thoughtful and immersive, it is a portrait of a community whose existence is much more than a hurdle on the way to urbanization.
When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.
Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.