China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: With the arrival of Western imperial powers and the introduction of Western knowledge, China witnessed a surge of new scientific disciplines, concepts, and institutions from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. While conventional scholarship on the history of science often located the origin of “modern science” within Europe, postcolonial Science and Technology Studies (STS) have proposed to decenter the Eurocentric framework and trace the transnational flows of ideas, techniques, and knowledge. Understanding the process of knowledge production as essentially hybrid, our panel proposes to examine the interplay of the global and the regional in the creation of a set of new scientific knowledge in early twentieth-century China. We hope to demonstrate the fluidity and power asymmetry in the invention and reinvention of certain scientific subjects.
Our panel consists of four case studies. Zhongxian Xiao analyzes the conflicting medico-legal evidence of Sino-British homicide cases in nineteenth-century Shanghai. Jinghong Zhang explores the construction of “Chinese dentistry” as a distinct and inferior medical category from Western dentistry in early twentieth-century China. Focusing on the discourse of opium addiction and the efforts to find “cure” for it, Shihan Zheng traces its origins and entanglement with Chinese modernity. Through the case of a figure named Zhao Yuhuang, Xiaomeng Liu examines the incorporation of the modern field of pharmacognosy into the scientific study of Chinese drugs. Together these cases illustrate how the encounter between colonial medicine and local/folk practices entailed the production of new concepts and knowledge in early twentieth-century China.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Jinghong Zhang – University of California, Santa Cruz
Virtual Paper Presenter: Shihan Zheng – University of Connecticut, Storrs
Virtual Paper Presenter: Xiaomeng Liu – Fudan University
Virtual Paper Presenter: Zhongxian Xiao – Georgia Institute Technology