My research investigates medicine and public health to measure social values, state-society relations, and political priorities in twentieth-century China. My first book Intimate Communities: Wartime Healthcare and the Birth of Modern China (1937-1945) (University of California Press, 2018; available online as an open access monograph) argues that women who worked in the medical field - as military and civilian nurses, midwives, and doctors - during China's terribly bloody war with Japan not only healed bodies but also built the national community. In daring to touch and care for the bodies of poor refugees, soldiers and parturient mothers, these women fostered the emotional trust that undergirded a sense of belonging to the nation in formation. Because the war sparked massive migrations of both soldiers and refugees that placed people of different social classes, regions and genders in close physical contact for the first time, female medical professionals were able to build relationships - however fleeting, however unequal - that crossed previously intact social divisions.
My current project interrogates the relationship between disgust and modernity in twentieth-century China. It asks how Chinese people, upon being told in the late nineteenth century that their bodies and bodily practices were deficient, learned to treat themselves and one another differently. How did they begin to discipline their own and each other's bodies into hygienic modernity?
History of Global Health
Crosslisted as GLHLTH 203
The course begins with the development of ancient medicine in Europe & China, and continues into the rise of biomedicine (e.g. laboratory science & microbiology) in the 19th and 20th centuries. Particular diseases illustrate important themes, such as the role of warfare in medical developments, the creation of international policy to control disease, and how non-Western societies intersected biomedicine. We trace global circulations of people and commodities to show how international agencies, charities and governing bodies have spread both disease and the means to fight it. Medicine has always been a global undertaking, and its history prepares us to address emerging health crises.
History of Chinese Medicine
Crosslisted as GLHLTH 142 AMES 142
This course introduces students to the history of medicine through the study of medical practices and beliefs in China. Paying close attention to socio-historical context, we will explore how those beliefs formed, how the practices have changed over time, and in particular how the introduction of Western medicine and then scientific biomedicine forced fundamental changes in Chinese medicine over the course of the twentieth century. This course also introduces students to the discipline of History, and students will work in close consultation with the professor to produce a unique research paper. History majors should take a Gateway Seminar first, but there are no official prerequisites.