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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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Sovereignty and the Microscope:

Sovereignty and the Microscope:

The Containment of the Manchurian Plague, 1910–11

(p.21) 2 Sovereignty and the Microscope
Neither Donkey nor Horse

Sean Hsiang-lin Lei

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 2 addresses one question: why did four relatively independent developments of concern in this book—China’s increasing exposure to Western medicine, the greater control of epidemic diseases, the state’s responsibility for public health, and the gradual acknowledgement of Chinese medicine’s inferiority—have to wait for the Manchurian plague (1910-1911) to reach their points of departure all at once? By way of assimilating this local history, especially the role played by its hero Wu Liande, into the global history of “laboratory revolution in medicine,” this chapter documents the formation of the alliance between the state and Western medicine since this plague. Along with the geopolitical context of this form of pneumonic plague, its specific characteristics played a crucial role in creating this watershed event. As its containment involved the institutionalization of a new category of disease—chuanranbing (infectious disease)—by the state, it irreversibly made the Chinese state the subject of the history of Western medicine in China.

Keywords:   pneumonic plague, Manchurian Plague, Wu Liande, Lien-teh Wu, laboratory revolution in medicine, germ theory, Manchuria, Infectious disease, public health, sovereignty

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