Understanding generational trauma through a method of self-care

Table of contents

Table of Contents
Learning To Love
Entangling Differently
Implicit Justice?
            Justice in a Hantopia
Situating the Research
Overview of Chapters
Chapter One: Suffering/Desire
            The Tentativeness of Desire
                        Telling Suffering
            The Feeling of Home
            Space Invasion
            The Timid and Weak Type
            Awkward Introductions
            Concluding Reflections          
Chapter Two: Home/Horizons
Textuality and the Agency of Atmopsheres
Boundary Making
            Opening the Space
            Closing the Space      
Concluding Reflections          
Chapter Three: The Great Self
            Reconfiguring the Body-Self
            Big Self, Little Self
            The Distributed Body
            Enacting the Inner Other
            Time Travel
            The Madhouse
            Concluding Reflections          
Chapter Four: Considering Culture
            Chinese Education Methods…or What?
            Western Methods
            Progress Plus Social Daode
            Fake Flowers
Concluding Reflections          
Chapter Five: Wrangling With Ghosts
            Conversations With Ghosts
            The Agency of Images
            The Indexicality of Ghosts
            Cultural Time in Jiapai
                        Big Data Cloud
                        Frameworks of Thought
Concluding Reflections          
Chapter Six: These Burdens We Carry
            “We Have So Much Hurt”
            Speaking of Shame
            “The Hate in My Heart”
            “Those Things That Are Collective”
Concluding Reflections
Chapter Seven: Tinkering with the Patriarchy
            The Permeability of Patriarchy
            Men’s Work
            “That Home in Your Heart”
            Rethinking the Yijing
            Concluding Reflections          
            Perplexing Particulars in the Era of Covid
            “Stay With Us”
            Concluding Reflections          


Learning to Love offers a range of perspectives on the embodied, relational, affective, and sociopolitical project of “learning to love” at the New Life Center for Holistic Growth, a popular “mind-body-spirit” bookstore and practice space in northeast China, in the early part of the 21st century. This intimate form of self-care exists alongside the fast-moving, growing capitalist society of contemporary China and has emerged as an understandable response to the pressures of Chinese industrialized life in the early 21st century. Opening with an investigation of the complex ways newcomers to the center suffered a sense of being “off,” both in and with the world at multiple scales, Learning to Love then examines how new horizons of possibility are opened as people interact with one another as well as with a range of aesthetic objects at New Life. 

Author Sonya Pritzker draws upon the core concepts of scalar intimacy—a participatory, discursive process in which people position themselves in relation to others as well as dominant ideologies, concepts, and ideals—and scalar inquiry—the process through which speakers interrogate these forms, their relationship with them, and their participation in reproducing them. In demonstrating the collaborative interrogation of culture, history, and memory, she examines how these exercises in physical, mental, and spiritual self-care allow participants to grapple with past social harms and forms of injustice, how historical systems of power—including both patriarchal and governance structures—continue in the present, and how they might be transformed in the future. By examining the interactions and relational experiences from New Life, Learning to Love offers a range of novel theoretical interventions into political subjectivity, temporality, and intergenerational trauma/healing.

Sonya E. Pritzker is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama. 

“This is a very inspiring and interesting book that raises penetrating questions regarding the social phenomenon of psycho-spiritual cultivation of the authentic inner self among a group of urban middle class people (mostly women) in a northern Chinese city.”

- Yunxiang Yan, UCLA

Learning to Love is outstanding. It engages and speaks to multiple bodies of research, offering an entirely new perspective on the politics of self-development in contemporary Chinese society with remarkable subtlety and nuance.”

- Teresa Kuan, Chinese University of Hong Kong