Marshall Kramer

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9414

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Kramer, Marshall M., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Growing Wilds: Harvesting Chinese Medicines in Farthest Myanmar,' supervised by Dr. Julie Y. Chu

MARSHALL M. KRAMER, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois was awarded funding in April 2017 to aid research on “The Growing Wilds: Harvesting Chinese Medicines in Farthest Myanmar,” supervised by Dr. Julie Y. Chu. Funding 21 months of fieldwork in the Myanmar Himalaya, this grant enabled an investigation into the global supply-chains of Chinese medicine markets. Employing a diversity of methods from participant observation and oral history documentation to landscape surveys and botanical specimen collection, the supported-study offers a view into the social and ecological contexts from which these “wild” medicines are procured and brought into global circulation. Tracking how key trade species are entangled with regional histories of frontier settlement, militarization and resource extraction, the project finds that these plants are not just valued trade items but long-used medicines that have supported life and extractive labor in this hinterland. The project further documents how many trade medicines are gathered from human-modified landscapes or cultivated, calling attention to a lively industry transplanting that sees many “wild” medicines undergoing propagation in secondary forests and urban gardens. In conclusion, the study draws attention to the central figure of the apothecary in this rural economy as exemplified by successful Lisu harvesters and traders. Far from obsolete, this study considers how the knowledge, practices, and social status of this pragmatic healer-merchant vocation affords Lisu a unique ability to negotiate the social and environmental challenges of Chinese market frontiers.