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EAST medicine seminar series announced - Circulation and prescriptions of medicines: world regions connected and compared

Complementary Medicine 12 September 2012

The EASTmedicine Research Centre at the School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster are pleased to announce a series of seminars between October 2012 and March 2013.

Today so-called “traditional Chinese” medicinal products are produced, circulated and prescribed not only in China or East Asia or even Chinese diasporas but throughout the world. The producers, traders, and prescribers of these products confront challenges that place their attachment to a tradition widely imagined in the singular with the multi-layered complexities of distributing and using these products in different contexts of practice. For instance, circulation channels and prescription styles differ significantly between various regions and localities due to different opportunity structures, types of administration and governance, climate, or professional training. Yet, working against as well as through such difference, both practices and medicinals also connect to each other via multiple interlacing networks encompassing texts, people, institutions, and discourses. 

This seminar series aims to shed light on these local, regional and global networks of exchange and their interconnectedness through analysis and comparison with other medical practices undergoing similar processes of transformation. 

Our specific focus will be on herbal and Chinese medicines. Regimes of quality control grounded in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences have a strong impact not only on research and administration but also the everyday practice of these medicines in Asia, Africa and the West. On the other hand, the production and distribution of medicines in East Asia significantly influence how and in what shape and form concrete medical practices can be imported to Europe or Africa. 

Drawing on ethnographic case studies and employing perspectives from anthropology and science studies, we thereby hope to contribute to a better understanding of the epidemiological, cultural, and social influences that have shaped the circulation and prescription of medicines and medicinals over time. In addition, we will invite speakers that can shed direct light on practices of distribution and exchange through their own involvement in manufacturing and distribution of medicinals.

Venue: C.104, University of Westminster Cavendish Campus, 115 New Cavendish St, London W1W 6UW

Time: Mondays 4-6 pm (October 2012 to March 2013)


1 October: Professor Ayo Wahlberg, Nationalising herbal medicine - on how herbal medicine became national in Vietnam (University of Copenhagen, Department of Anthropology)

29 October: Professor Laurent Pordié, When Big Pharma Turns Green. Drug Discovery, Ayurveda and Global Markets (CNRS, Paris)

19 November: Professor Elisabeth Hsu, Chinese medicine in East Africa (University of Oxford, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology)

3 December: Dr Lena Springer, Medicinal delicatessen: A historical anthropology of Chinese 
substances and prescribers in the PRC (University of Westminster) 

28 January: Professor Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner, Traditional Chinese Medicine's multiple roles in stem cell research in the PRC  (University of Sussex, Department of Anthropology)

11 February: Dr Mona Schrempf, Networks and Ruptures in Producing and Circulating Herbal Tibetan Medicines in Europe  (University of Westminster, EASTmedicine research centre, London)

18 March: Dr Michael Liu Shiyung, Marketing herbal medicine in Japan and Taiwan: the pre-WWII era (Academica Sinica, Taibei) 

To register or for more information please email Lena Springer at [email protected]

Funded by D.Kim Foundation for the History of Science and Technology in East Asia, University of Westminster, Wellcome Trust.

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