Talk at the Library: Caterpillar Fungus


Gold Rush in the Tibetan Mountains [MEMBERS ONLY]

Photo: © Emilia Sulek

© Emilia Sulek

When SARS hit and the Bird Flu was in full swing the Chinese pharmaceutical industry pronounced a new remedy as its miracle cure: the caterpillar fungus. In season for a month only, the parasite catapulted the mountainous region of Golok, a pastoral region on the Tibetan plateau, into an economic boom reminiscent of 19th century gold rush in America. Only: this is the 21st century, with a contemporary China as a huge market, a global player, and a folio for modern life, not only to nomads in the periphery. 

How did this society – who lived almost entirely without any money for centuries – react to the new wealth? What did the money flowing in do with the society? And what other economic and social effects did this strange phenomenon bring? 

Join us for a members-only conversation with Emilia Sulek. The anthropologist lived in the region for a year and found a story of globalization and modernization that speaks of an unexpected situation and of people who do well in it.


11:50 – Doors open
12:00 – Conversation with Emilia Roza Sulek
13:30 – End of event


Space is limited and seats are awarded on a first come first serve basis.

A brown bag lunch will be served.

This event is for Asia Society Members only. How to become a member?

Attendance is free. In order to avoid no-shows, a CHF 50 no-show fee will be charged if you do not cancel your registration until 24 hours before the event the latest.

Emilia Roza Sulek

Emilia Sulek is a scholar of China, Tibet and Central Asia. She writes about contemporary Asian societies, shadow economies, development, state power, political conflict and environment, and gender politics. She is a member of ROADWORK: an anthropological research project about the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. She teaches in Zurich and Bern, currently about Tibet and the CIA during the Cold War Period.

Event Details

Tue 04 Feb 2020
12 - 1:30 p.m.

Asia Society Switzerland
Mühlebachstrasse 20
8008 Zurich

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