"Illness as Metaphor"
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDsh98OxEQQ] (the video is a song by the inhabitants of Losheng Sanatorium, singing their love and attachment to the Losheng community)
By linanne 10
Taiwanese students have been extremely busy for participating in social movements the past two months. After the protest against the regulation on the freedom of speech and assembly, Taiwanese students are now again bringing back the issue on the Losheng Sanatorium. The Losheng Sanatorium is a community like construction for displacing leprosy patients during the Japanese colonial dictatorship in Taiwan. Due to misunderstanding which led to the stigmatization of the disease, the sanatorium is separated and isolated entirely from the rest of the population, even until now days. After nearly eighty years of inhabitation, the sanatorium has developed into a self-sufficient community unique to the inhabitants–the patients, their friends and families–who were casted aside from the society for so long. The protest last week was a reaction toward the government policy of building a MRT (Mass Rapid Transportation) station right at the site of the current Losheng Sanatorium. This basically means that the government is going to tear down the sanatorium for the MRT construction.
Even though the government provided indemnification and alternative accommodations, this could not compensate for the violation against human rights of the policy. The alternative accommodations are highly medicalized which deprives the inhabitants of their individual agency. Using Michel Foucault’s term, political technology, government policies are instruments of power concealed under the neutral language of science. Eighty years ago, illness has been a justification for confining lepers in restricted areas; eighty years later, illness legitimizes the relocation of the inhabitants from an open air community to an enclose medicalized hospital institution. Because of the scientific language of illness, lepers are placed in a highly subordinated position. The metaphorical use of illness conceals the power informing the order of the society and the action orientations people engage in. From leprosy to AIDS, from tuberculosis to SARS, political technology consistently take on the form of disease. In what sense could illness strip off its stigma? Thus cease to be a metaphor of political control.
The student protest for Losheng Sanatorium