Circumventing regulation and professional legitimization: the circulation of Chinese medicine between China and France

Wang, Simeng. Circumventing regulation and professional legitimization: the circulation of Chinese medicine between China and France. In C. Coderey and L. Pordié (eds.), Circulation and governance of Asian medicine. Routledge, 2019, pp. 139-156.

Simeng Wang est chargée de recherche au CNRS (CERMES3).


From the case of Chinese medicine circulating between China and France, this chapter aims to highlight some key elements in the relations between transnational circulation and the governance of Asian medicine. More precisely, the chapter focuses on the practices and strategies adopted by product sellers and illegal practitioners to circumvent regulatory rules and to legitimize themselves professionally. Through a three-step analysis (the sales of Chinese medicine products, the professional legitimating of illegal practitioners, and the training conditions of future Chinese medicine practitioners), the findings illustrate how circulation and regulation affect one another, and demonstrate tight and diversified links between the ways the actors circumvent governance and how they legitimize themselves. Each actor individualizes his/her legitimating strategies according to their professional activity and their resources held. There are therefore highly differentiated itineraries of Chinese medicine circulation because of the various regulation frameworks. As a way of calling for further investigation, this paper wishes to advocate for the global trajectory approach. Transnational circulation does not work only by formal regulation and official rules. It passes also by unofficial regulation frameworks and by individuals’ trajectories and mobility, which deserve serious consideration.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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