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Covid-19 Prevention at the Grassroots Level: Experiences, Perspectives, and Responses in Rural Kham, Eastern Tibet, China

Sonam Wangmo
p. 73-82

Abstract

The sudden outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) caused an unprecedented catastrophe worldwide. Different communities adopted a wide range of preventive measures to halt transmission of the disease. This article examines how rural Tibetan communities in China’s eastern Tibet (Kham) have addressed this pandemic, including their popular discourses and practices concerning the ethics, etiology, and prevention of Covid-19. Through analysing the experiences, views, and responses of local Tibetans to Covid-19, this article reveals their underlying beliefs and values, and highlights the integration of their religious and medical practices. Analysis of ethnographic data shows that local Tibetans in Kham have not only relied on religious rituals and traditional Tibetan medicinal practices but have also adopted various modern public health measures to ensure effective prevention of the virus. Therefore, this study demonstrates not only a syncretic practice of religion and medicine in the landscape of Tibetan medical culture but also the practicality and adaptability of local Tibetans during crises.

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Editor’s notes

Manuscript received on 9 May 2021. Accepted on 6 June 2023.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on December 2024.

Outline

Introduction
Medical practices in contemporary Kham
Local experiences and narratives about Covid-19
Preventive responses from rural communities
Recitation of religious mantras
Wearing Tibetan medical amulets
Consumption of various precious pills
The utilisation of traditional medical herbs
A syncretic practice of religion and medicine
Conclusion

First lines

Introduction

While people were still immersed in the joy of welcoming the New Year, there was a sudden outbreak of the novel Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which subsequently brought unprecedented catastrophe to the world (Li et al. 2020). With a sharp increase in infection and mortality rates in Wuhan, the central government of China enforced strict quarantine regulations on Wuhan on 23 January 2020 to limit the virus’s transmission. However, Covid-19 had already spread extensively across the whole country due to intense migration before the Spring Festival (Xu et al. 2020: 324).
I was part of that massive flux, returning from Chengdu to Dartsendo (Kangding
in Chinese) in the Kandze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Kham to spend the Spring Festival with my family. Days after news reached Kandze Prefecture of the outbreak of Covid-19 and the lockdown in Wuhan, although many local Tibetans lacked a thorough understanding of the virus, I se...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Sonam Wangmo, Covid-19 Prevention at the Grassroots Level: Experiences, Perspectives, and Responses in Rural Kham, Eastern Tibet, ChinaChina Perspectives, 135 | 2023, 73-82.

Electronic reference

Sonam Wangmo, Covid-19 Prevention at the Grassroots Level: Experiences, Perspectives, and Responses in Rural Kham, Eastern Tibet, ChinaChina Perspectives [Online], 135 | 2023, Online since 01 December 2024, connection on 04 March 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/16129; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.16129

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About the author

Sonam Wangmo

Sonam Wangmo is a Newton International postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University, Pusey Ln, Oxford OX1 2LE, United Kingdom (sonam.silangwengmu@ames.ox.ac.uk).

By this author

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Copyright

The text and other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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