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Keywords:

  • viscerality;
  • narrative of transition;
  • consumption;
  • neoliberalism;
  • subjectivity

This article discusses the viscerality of consumption; in particular, consumption-as-eating and consumption-as-spending as a set of heterogeneous, contestatory discourses and practices of identity production and subject formation. To do so, I bring together two intersecting events: the Chinese government's ban on wild animal markets during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, and Chinese and European media frenzy over the visit to China by the Spanish football club Real Madrid in the wake of the epidemic. In discussing these events, I pay specific attention to unruly bodies—both human and nonhuman—as consumables and those who consume them. In examining translocal encounters of these unruly bodies, I suggest that, in post-SARS China, discourses and practices of consumption produce emergent socialities that at once refigure racialized Orientalist tropes and conjure up discrepant neoliberal imaginaries of lifestyle and consumer choice.