Sep 23, 2019
On MIA Radio, we interview Anthropologist Zhiying Ma, who explores mental health care in China, including tensions between Western psychiatry and socially-oriented local frameworks.
Zhiying Ma is a cultural and medical anthropologist and disability studies scholar whose work explores the experiences and rights of those receiving mental health services in China. Her current book project, Intimate Institutions: Governance and Care Under the Mental Health Legal Reform in Contemporary China, investigates how the Chinese state has placed paternalistic responsibilities on families through their role in the care of those diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, in part through the practice of involuntary hospitalization.
Ma came to earn a Ph.D. in Anthropology after questioning psychology’s overemphasis on decontextualized human behavior while majoring in the subject as an undergraduate. She found that anthropology offered the more humanistic and socially oriented lens she was looking for, and this perspective informs her current work.
Ma collaborates with psychiatrists, social workers, human rights activists, lawmakers, families, and those with lived experience to not only conduct research but also to take part in China’s ongoing mental health policy discussions and push for community-based, socially inclusive care that is not simply “care as usual.”