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Matthew Kohrman

Profile Photo of Matthew Kohrman

Matthew Kohrman

Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Ph.D. Harvard, 1999
Research Interests: 
Medical anthropology, governmentality, illness experience, gender, China.


Matthew Kohrman’s 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.

Office Hours:
Let's Zoom together! Monday afternoon 1:00 to 3:00. Schedule an office hours visit by clicking HERE.

Health Advocacy Projects:
Stanford's Center for Innovation in Global Health
Cigarette Citadels - The Map Project
Stanford Asia Health Policy Program

Selected Articles

2021 “Filtered Life: Air Purification, Gender, and Cigarettes in the People’s Republic of China.” Public Culture, vol. 33, issue 2: 161-191.

 2020 “Tobacco Reconsidered: Ongoing Omissions, Original Outlooks in the Slipstreams of Experience, Global Health and Critical Industry Studies.” Co-authored with Peter Benson. Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 49, A1-A5. 

2020 "Politicize this Pandemic, But Do So Carefully: An Open Letter from Scholars Studying Public Health in China and the U.S.” Matthew Kohrman et al. Published abridged as "Scholars’ Plea: U.S. and China, Work Together on the Pandemic,” Op-ed, New York Times, May 1.

2020 "Unmasking a Gendered Materialism: Air Filtration, Cigarettes, and Domestic Discord in Urban China.” In Can Science and Technology Save China? Utopian Dreams, Dystopian Realities, Susan Greenhalgh and Li Zhang, eds. Cornell University Press.

2018 “The Chinese Cigarette Industry during the “Great Leap Forward.” Huangfu Qiushi and Matthew Kohrman. In Poisonous Pandas.  

2018 “Wrangling the Cash Cow: Reforming Tobacco Taxation since Mao.” Matthew Kohrman et al. In Poisonous Pandas.

2018 ““Filtered” Cigarettes and the Low-Tar Lie in China.” Matthew Kohrman et al. In Poisonous Pandas.

2017 “Curating Employee Ethics: Self-Glory Amidst Slow Violence at The China Tobacco Museum” Medical Anthropology, vol. 36, no. 1: 47-60.
2015 “Cloaks and Veils: Countervisualizing Cigarette Factories In and Outside of China,” Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 88, no. 4: 907-940.
2013 "Smoking Intensity Among Male Factory Workers in Kunming, China." Co-authored with Kai-Wen Cheng et al. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health.
2011 “Tobacco.” Co-authored with Peter Benson. Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 40: 329-344.
2010 “New Steps for Tobacco Control In and Outside of China. ” Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health vol. 22(3):189S-196S
2008 “Anthropology in China’s Health Promotion and Tobacco.”  Co-authored with Xiao Shuiyuan.  The Lancet, vol. 372, S01:10-11. [Chinese version available here.]
2008 "Should I Quit?  Tobacco, Fraught Identity, and the Risks of Governmentality in Urban China.” (Revised and updated reprint.)  In Privatizing China: Socialism from Afar.  Li Zhang & Aihwa Ong (Editors).  Cornell University Press.
2008 "Smoking among Doctors: Governmentality, Embodiment, and the Diversion of Blame in Contemporary China." Medical Anthropology, vol. 27(1): 9-42.
2007 "Tobacco Control in Developing Countries: Tanzania, China, Nepal, and Thailand." Steve Sussman, Pallav Pokhrel, David Black, Matthew Kohrman, Stephen Hamann, Prakit Vateesatokit, Stephen Nsimba. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, vol. 9: 447-457.
2007 "Depoliticizing Tobacco’s Exceptionality: Male Sociality, Death, and Memory-Making among Chinese Cigarette Smokers." The China Journal, vol. 58: 85-109.
2005 Striding Along the Road to Health: A Handbook for Giving Up Smoking (in Chinese). Co-authors: Matthew Kohrman (first author), Li Xiaoliang, Zhang Haopeng, Xiao Xia, and Yang Yan. Developed in collaboration with the School of Public Health, Kunming Medical College, and China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hong Kong: China News United Publishing (2005). Beijing: China Union Medical College Press (2007).
2004 "Should I Quit? Tobacco, Fraught Identity, and the Risks of Governmentality in Urban China." Urban Anthropology, vol. 33: 211-245.
2003 "Why Am I Not Disabled? Statistics and Transnational Subject Making in Modern China." Medical Anthropology Quarterly, vol. 17: 5-24.
2003 "Authorizing a Disability Agency in Post-Mao China: Deng Pufang's Story as Biomythography." Cultural Anthropology, vol. 18: 99-131.
2000 "Grooming Que Zi: Marriage Exclusion and Identity Formation among Disabled Men in Contemporary China." American Ethnologist, vol. 26: 890-909.
1999 "Motorcycles for the Disabled: Mobility, Modernity and the Transformation of Experience in Urban China." Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, vol. 23(1): 133-155.