We are pleased to offer for review ‘The Impotence Epidemic: Men’s Medicine and Sexual Desire in Contemporary China’ by Everett Yuehong Zhang (Duke University Press, 2015). Expressions of interest are welcome from across the medical humanities.

impotenceSince the 1990s China has seen a dramatic increase in the number of men seeking treatment for impotence. Everett Yuehong Zhang argues in The Impotence Epidemic that this trend represents changing public attitudes about sexuality in an increasingly globalized China. In this ethnography he shifts discussions of impotence as a purely neurovascular phenomenon to a social one. Zhang contextualizes impotence within the social changes brought by recent economic reform and through the production of various desires in post-Maoist China.

Based on interviews with 350 men and their partners from Beijing and Chengdu, and concerned with de-mystifying and de-stigmatizing impotence, Zhang suggests that the impotence epidemic represents not just trauma and suffering, but also a contagion of individualized desire and an affirmation for living a full life. For Zhang, studying male impotence in China is one way to comprehend the unique experience of Chinese modernity.

If you would like to review ‘The Impotence Epidemic’ (no more than 1,000 words in length), then please consult our reviewer’s guidelines and email our reviews editor with a short explanation of why you are well placed to review the book.


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