Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Chinese Village

Fighting for BreathNumerous reports of “cancer villages” have appeared in the past decade in both Chinese and Western media, highlighting the downside of China’s economic development. Less generally known is how people experience and understand cancer in areas where there is no agreement on its cause. Who or what do they blame? How do they cope with its onset? Fighting for Breath: Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Chinese Village, by Anna Lora-Wainwright, is the first ethnography to offer a bottom-up account of how rural families strive to make sense of cancer and care for sufferers. It addresses crucial areas of concern such as health, development, morality, and social change in an effort to understand what is at stake in the contemporary Chinese countryside.

Fighting for Breath is a well-written, ethnographically grounded, and anthropologically compelling book. It is theoretically sophisticated and clearly the work of a serious China scholar and first-rate medical anthropologist. Cancer has received much less attention in these fields than it deserves, so this volume fills an important niche.” —Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University

May 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3682-5 / $52.00 (CLOTH)