Lijiaozi Cheng

Project title: Sub-health as a boundary object: where does it come from and how does it travel

The project, taking “sub-health”, the grey area between disease and health, as a boundary object, proposes to look at the way it is used in the context of personalized medicine and alternative medicine in the West (mainly as Chinese medicine). It also looks at the discourse surrounding sub-health in journal articles, position papers, etc. in personalized medicine and alternative medicine. On the other hand, it will build on my fieldwork in a traditional Chinese medicine clinic in Sheffield, looking at the ways patients view their own health status through the lens of sub-health, and the way the doctor adopts the concept of sub-health in speaking with the patients. In this way, the project looks at the discourse of sub-health both in different kinds of discourses, including in academic journal articles and in a real clinic setting. It seeks to look at the genealogy of the concept, and how it has traveled. It observes the way sub-health, is used to complement, contradict and mesh with a biomedical understanding of health, and, in this process, the question of what is personal is brought into question. The ultimate goal is to see how this concept could enrich the philosophical debate on disease and health, and how this concept will become helpful in theorizing health.

My project is supervised by Dr Annamaria Carusi (MHS).