Lili Lai

Anthropologist; 2023 - 2024 Berggruen China Center Fellow

Lili Lai is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the School of Health Humanities at Peking University. She received her MA and PhD in Anthropology from UNC-Chapel Hill. Lai’s research interests include the body, everyday life, and medical practices. She has done extensive ethnographic and interdisciplinary research on health-related issues in rural and urban communities of Northern and Southwestern China.

Dr. Lai’s monographs include Hygiene, Sociality and Culture in Contemporary Rural China: The Uncanny New Village (Amsterdam University Press, 2016), and Gathering Medicines: Nation and Knowledge in China's Mountain South, co-authored with Judith Farquhar (The University of Chicago Press, 2021).

With expertise in the anthropology of knowledge and the anthropology of the body, Lai intends to use her Berggruen project to explore the resonance between body perceptions in Chinese medicine and posthuman scholars’ proposal to reimagine bodies in the era of artificial intelligence. Focusing on the entanglement of Chinese medicine and cybernetics in the past and present, this research aims to bring Chinese medicine and its philosophy to the forefrontof debates around science and technology development in our increasingly informatic world, in particular questions related to bodysubjectivity and self-individuation, as well as the dynamics between the virtual and actual, information and material.