In this podcast interview, Dr. Elanah Uretsky discusses her recent book, Occupational Hazards: Sex, Business, and HIV in Post-Mao China, with National Committee Program Officer Maura Cunningham. The book follows a group of Chinese businessmen and government officials as they conduct business in Beijing and western Yunnan Province, uncovering informal networks that result in political favors for the businessmen. The networks are built on liquor, cigarettes, food, and sex; risky behaviors turn into occupational hazards.
Occupational Hazards follows men both powerful and vulnerable to China's growing epidemics of sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Examining how elite masculine networking rituals that have been used to fuel China’s economy for the past 35 years have contributed to the epidemic of HIV in China, the book includes the stories of numerous government officials and businessmen who visit commercial sex workers but avoid HIV testing for fear of threatening their economic and political status. Their lives are complicated and efforts to resolve the problem stymied by a political system that does not publicly acknowledge the issue, and by international approaches to disease control that limit the reach of public health interventions. Dr. Uretsky offers insights into how complex socio-cultural and politico-economic negotiations have affected the development of and approaches to China's HIV epidemic.
Dr. Uretsky discussed her research and her new book with the National Committee on March 15, 2016, in New York City.
Dr. Elanah Uretsky is a is a medical anthropologist in the departments of global health, anthropology, and the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. For the past fifteen years Dr. Uretsky has conducted research on the HIV epidemic in China, primarily in western Yunnan Province on China's border with Burma. Dr. Uretsky received her Ph.D. in medical anthropology from Columbia University. She also holds master’s degrees in East Asian languages and civilizations from Harvard University and international relations from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in economics and East Asian studies from New York University. She is a National Committee Public Intellectuals Program fellow and a member of the Committee.