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Neither Donkey nor HorseMedicine in the Struggle over China's Modernity$
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Sean Hsiang-lin Lei

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226169880

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226169910.001.0001

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Thinking with Modern Chinese Medicine

(p.259) 11 Conclusion
Neither Donkey nor Horse

Sean Hsiang-lin Lei

University of Chicago Press

To explore the general implications suggested by the early history of modern Chinese medicine presented in the previous chapters, Chapter 11 recasts these historical findings as a heuristic tool for reflecting on a series of ever-expanding issues: (1) the relationship between medicine and the state, (2) the (im)possibility of productive cross-breeding between Chinese medicine and biomedicine, (3) the notion of “China’s modernity,” and finally (4) the “Great Divide” between modern and pre-modern, as analyzed by Bruno Latour. Against the discourse of a “Great Divide,” this newly re-assembled modern Chinese medicine took the discourse of modernity (and related knowledge of biomedicine) seriously and yet managed to survived the resulting epistemic violence by way of negotiation and self-innovation. In this sense, the historic rise of this “neither donkey nor horse” medicine constitutes a local innovation of crucial importance for the notion of China’s modernity, challenging us to imagine different kinds of relationships between science and non-Western knowledge traditions.

Keywords:   Modern Chinese medicine, China’s modernity, Great Divide, Bruno Latour, science as modernity, state and medicine, hybridity

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