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Presented By: Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies

EIHS Lecture: Piercing Flesh and Joining Bones: The Materiality of the Body in the History of Chinese Medicine

Yi-Li Wu (University of Michigan)

Yi-Li Wu Yi-Li Wu
Yi-Li Wu
What are we talking about when we talk about “Chinese medicine”? By analyzing the surgical and bone setting techniques used to treat traumatic injuries in sixteenth- to early nineteenth-century China, this talk challenges the conventional wisdom that Chinese medicine was concerned with vital function but indifferent to anatomy. The need to heal bodies damaged by accidents and social violence historically motivated literate doctors to develop therapeutic doctrines in which manipulating the body’s morphology was inseparable from regulating its vital functions. Attention to this material body not only expands our appreciation of medical diversity in China, but also provides a more historically informed basis for cross-cultural medical comparisons.

Yi-Li Wu is a historian of Chinese medicine focusing on the history of gender, sexuality, and the body. She is the author of Reproducing Women: Medicine, Metaphor, and Childbirth in Late Imperial China (University of California Press, 2010), awarded the 2011 Margaret W. Rossiter Prize of the History of Science Society. She has published articles on a range of topics including forensic medicine, medical illustration, breast cancer, Sino-Korean medicine, and Chinese views of European anatomical science. She is currently completing a manuscript on the history of traumatology in imperial China. She holds a joint appointment as associate professor of history and of women’s and gender studies at the University of Michigan.

This event presented by the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible in part by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.

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