Folk Medicine-China

“When I went to China I went to this..uh..province called Yunnan. I know like those minority group people, like when they want to stay healthy they eat a little bit of silver. A very little bit. Because you know too much is bad for you. They take like this (points to bracelet) and boil it to get the top layer off, and then they put it in their water, and it floats on top, and they drink it. Not a lot at once, but little by little throughout their life.”

            Jamie is my roommate. She is an international student from Hong Kong, here at the University of Southern California to study film production. She found this folk medicine interesting because it was something very different than she was used to seeing, living in Hong Kong. She explained to me that people in the provinces have different customs and lifestyles than the people in the city, which is why she took a trip out to this province as a tourist.

            This anecdote shows me an example in which the nation-state model is not necessarily accurate. Parts of the same nation are different enough that a Chinese native can be surprised by the differences in culture nearby. It’s easy to attribute many cultural differences across the United States as resulting from the different ethnic influences in each area; however in Jamie’s case, Americans would consider her and the people of Yunnan to be of the same ethnicity because they belong to one nation-state. In America, they would both be considered Chinese, when in China, they belong to different folk groups.