Thinking with Modern Chinese Medicine
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.
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