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Neither Donkey Nor Horse: Medicine and the Struggle Over China's Modernity

Thursday, May 15, 2014

1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Sean Hsiang-lin Lei, PhD, Institute of Modern History, Academica Sinica, Taiwan, Institute for Advanced Study, USA
This talk aims to answer one question: How was Chinese medicine transformed from an antithesis of modernity in the early twentieth century into a potent symbol and vehicle for China's exploration of its own modernity half a century later?

Instead of viewing this transition as a derivative of the political history of modern China, it argues that China's medical history had a life of its own and, at times, even influenced the ideological struggle over the definition of China's modernity and the Chinese state. Far from being a "remnant" of pre-modern China, Chinese medicine in the twentieth century co-evolved with Western medicine and the Nationalist state, undergoing a profound transformation--institutionally, epistemologically, and materially--that resulted in the creation of a modern Chinese medicine.