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Chinese Femininities/Chinese MasculinitiesA Reader$
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Susan Brownell and Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520211032

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520211032.001.0001

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Embodying Qi and Masculinities in Post-Mao China

Embodying Qi and Masculinities in Post-Mao China

(p.315) Chapter Twelve Embodying Qi and Masculinities in Post-Mao China
Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities

Nancy N. Chen

University of California Press

This chapter discusses the links between qi and masculinity both through physiological explanations in traditional Chinese medicine and through the social context of qigong (a practice of breath work and healing through cultivating one's qi), where the power of qi is amplified beyond the body. Although the discussion of qi and masculinity here acknowledges the importance of corporeal bodies in historical framings of sex and gender, it relies on the notion of gender as a politicized and social performance. This chapter also discusses laypeople's notions about masculinity and how these are linked to the practice of qigong. Focusing on the charismatic leaders of qigong, the chapter illustrates the ways in which gender, specifically masculinity, becomes intertwined with power in the post-Mao context. Furthermore, it explores how the paths to being a master tend to be determined not only by physiological difference but also by gender ideologies that shape the practice of qigong and official discourses about it.

Keywords:   qi, qigong, masculinity, gender, traditional Chinese medicine

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