Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Jeffrey S. Good


Discourse Analysis, Ethnography, Health Communication, Language and Social Interaction, TCM

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a thousand-year old medical practice originated in China, has stepped into the western world with globalization for years. TCM has entered the West with its foreign, distant and “unscientific” concepts despite the fact that medicine globalization is still a contested concept. My thesis aims to understand the embodied concepts of TCM through practitioner-patient interaction as culturally specific constructs. Among many TCM medical and philosophical concepts, I specifically focus on the healing, the silence and the miracle cure and how they are embodied and co-constructed by the practitioner and the patient during acupuncture, herb prescription and tuina massage treatment sessions. Using a discourse analytic approach informed by ethnographic field notes and interviews conducted in 2014 Kunming China, my thesis looks at data of video recordings of acupuncture, pulse reading and tuina massage sessions, through which I define the embodiments of TCM discourse are feelings as healing, interacting silences and the “miracle-minded” (Zhan, 2009) cure. The current thesis will provide groundwork for future inter/cross-cultural TCM practitioner-patient interaction comparison for the purpose of developing culturally competent alternative healthcare materials. It also provides the interactional and cultural insights to further research how to handle the interculturality of TCM in the West for the purpose of the betterment of the holistic treatment in the United States. Also, through studying the embodiment of TCM concepts in interaction, it provides us interactional and cultural insights to further our understandings of the interculturality with TCM labeled as the holistic treatment around the world.


Open Access