Sovereign-Biopolitics and Tobacco’s Annihilation of China's Male State with Prof. Matthew Kohrman

Tuesday, October 18, 2022
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Hybrid Event: Goldman Room E409, Encina Hall | Zoom Meeting

SCCEI Fall Seminar Series 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022      11:00 am -12:15 pm Pacific Time

Goldman Room E401, Encina Hall, 616 Jane Stanford Way | Zoom Meeting 

Sovereign-Biopolitics and Tobacco’s Annihilation of China's Male State

This talk takes up a historical and theoretical puzzle: how has it come to be that nation states, which are run by men, are reputedly biopolitical in design yet facilitate their male citizens' exposure to the greatest cause of preventable death today. The analytical answer offered centers around a phenomenon long ago dubbed the pharmakon, something that simultaneously heals and poisons. The story told here is a smoky one, wafting across territorial boundaries, epochs, big business plays, and an uncanny cast of characters. 

About the Speaker

Matthew Kohrman photo from Zoom.

 Matthew Kohrman is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and a SCCEI Faculty Affiliate. His research and writing bring anthropological methods to bear on the ways health, culture, and politics are interrelated. Focusing on the People's Republic of China, he engages various intellectual terrains such as governmentality, gender theory, political economy, critical science studies, narrativity, and embodiment. His first monograph, Bodies of Difference: Experiences of Disability and Institutional Advocacy in the Making of Modern China, raises questions about how embodied aspects of human existence, such as our gender, such as our ability to propel ourselves through space as walkers, cyclists and workers, become founts for the building of new state apparatuses of social provision, in particular, disability-advocacy organizations. Over the last decade, Prof. Kohrman has been involved in research aimed at analyzing and intervening in the biopolitics of cigarette smoking among Chinese citizens. This work, as seen in his recently edited volume--Poisonous Pandas: Chinese Cigarette Manufacturing in Critical Historical Perspectives--expands upon heuristic themes of his earlier disability research and engages in novel ways techniques of public health, political philosophy, and spatial history. More recently, he has begun projects linking ongoing interests at the intersection of phenomenology and political economy with questions regarding environmental attunement and the arts.

Seminar Series Moderators

Headshot of Dr. Scott Rozelle

Scott Rozelle is the Helen F. Farnsworth Senior Fellow and the co-director of Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University.  For the past 30 years, he has worked on the economics of poverty reduction. Currently, his work on poverty has its full focus on human capital, including issues of rural health, nutrition and education. For the past 20 year, Rozelle has been the chair of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Most recently, Rozelle's research focuses on the economics of poverty and inequality, with an emphasis on rural education, health and nutrition in China. In recognition of this work, Dr. Rozelle has received numerous honors and awards. Among them, he became a Yangtse Scholar (Changjiang Xuezhe) in Renmin University of China in 2008. In 2008 he also was awarded the Friendship Award by Premiere Wen Jiabao, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a foreigner. 


hongbin li headshot

Hongbin Li is the Co-director of Stanford Center on China's Economy and Institutions, and a Senior Fellow of Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Hongbin obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 2001 and joined the economics department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), where he became full professor in 2007. He was also one of the two founding directors of the Institute of Economics and Finance at the CUHK. He taught at Tsinghua University in Beijing 2007-2016 and was C.V. Starr Chair Professor of Economics in the School of Economics and Management. He founded the Chinese College Student Survey (CCSS) in 2009 and the China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES) in 2014.

Hongbin’s research has been focused on the transition and development of the Chinese economy, and the evidence-based research results have been both widely covered by media outlets and well read by policy makers around the world. He is currently the co-editor of the Journal of Comparative Economics.


This seminar is a hybrid event. Please join us in person in the Goldman Conference Room located within Encina Hall on the 4th floor of the East wing, or join remotely via Zoom.

Questions? Contact Heather Rahimi at