The purpose of this paper is to examine the transformations of prosthetic practices in China, as well as the daily experiences and dilemmas arising from the everchanging practices since 1949. On the basis of materials, this paper explores an everyday perspective to review the history of technology.Design/methodology/approachEthnography was collected with the application of participant observations, informal interviews and in-depth interviews during a 13-months study at a rehabilitation center in Chengdu, China. The literature on prosthetic manufacturing was also reviewed for this paper.FindingsChina's prosthetic technology seems to evolve from traditional to modern. However, this progressive narrative – innovation-based timeline (Edgerton, 2006, xi) – has been challenged by daily practices. Due to institutional pressures, prosthetists are in a dilemma of selectively using their knowledge to create one kind of device for all prosthesis users with a certain kind of disability, thereby regulating the physical and social experiences of prosthesis users. Besides, prosthesis users are accustomed to prostheses made with old techniques, and must correct themselves from old experiences to the daily practices recognized by the selected techniques.Originality/valueThis paper provides a cross-cultural case to reexamine Edgerton's criticism of the progressive and orderly innovation-centric technological narrative. More importantly, it reviews the history and practices of China's prosthetics from daily experiences rather than Edgerton's concentration on technology; therefore, it provides an everyday perspective for future research on technological transformations.
Asian Education and Development Studies – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 23, 2020
Keywords: Prosthetics; China; Disabled experience; History of technology