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Fugitive Subjects of the "Mi-Yi" : : Politics of Life and Labor in Taiwan's Medical Modernity


My dissertation examines the "mi-yi" (secret doctors) as a threshold figure within twentieth-century Taiwanese society. The threshold figure is employed in my study to identify the "mi-yi" as a fugitive subject shuttling between secrecy and publicity, absence and presence, as well as legality and illegality. The dissertation pursues genealogies of "mi-yi" by examining the various treatments of the "mi-yi" during different eras of Taiwan modernity: by Japanese colonial medicine, during the Chinese nationalist regime, and by the U.S. Cold War development in Asia. My project focuses on the transnational history of medical knowledge production and practices that came to define the hierarchies of life and labor in the modern juridical and political senses of the terms. I pursue the genealogies of "secret doctors" in Taiwan to explore how the scientific discourse of medical modernity converges with state politics that redefined the legality and illegality of medical knowledge and practices, thereby further subjugating non-normative medical subjects and practices to the margins of society and humanity. Offering a critical examination of the regime of an administrative and bureaucratic legality along with analyses of medical public cultures, literary representations, and anthropological narratives, this research shows how the scientific notion of medical modernization gets codified into the law as the governance of the body, labor, and affect, and how the state cumulatively extends its power over the domain of medical care and public health. In tracing the genealogies of the "mi-yi" figure in Taiwanese society and its transnational politics of knowledge production, I explain how the illegality of medical practices and the hierarchical structure of production and reproduction of labor became central to Taiwan's modernization, a process that transformed perceptions and practices about the globalized medical cultures and politics

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