EASTmedicine Research Group


EASTmedicine International workshop

14 September 2015

The International workshop: 'Comparative perspectives on body materiality and structure in the history of Sinitic and East Asian medicines' will he held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI on 2–4 October 2015.

mage credit: Healers reducing a dislocated shoulder, Japanese scroll, 19thc., Welcome Library, London.

The International workshop: 'Comparative perspectives on body materiality and structure in the history of Sinitic and East Asian medicines' will he held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI on 2–4 October 2015.

Organised by Yi-Li Wu (University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies; University of Westminster, EASTmedicine), Miranda Brown (University of Michigan, ALC), Leslie de Vries (University of Westminster, EASTmedicine).

With the generous support of The Wellcome Trust project “Beyond Traditions” at EASTmedicine, University of Westminster, The American Council of Learned Societies/Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation "Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society" program and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (USA).

Workshop description

How have practitioners of Sinitic and other East Asian medicines historically understood the material structures of the human body? How did different actors create, assess, and disseminate knowledge about bodily structure, and how were perceptions of bodily structure intertwined with ideas about health, illness, and therapeutics? Our workshop will address these questions in order to investigate an important yet widely neglected epistemological dynamic in the development of healing and medical practice in East Asia.

Historically, Sinitic and East Asian medical texts contained numerous discussions of the body’s structures, including organs and channels, skin and flesh, bones and sinews. Their authors debated the morphology of the body, sought to map its physical layout which aimed to articulate standards of correct and effective knowledge.

Modern scholars and practitioners have tended to dismiss such portrayals as anatomically irrelevant, or to portray them as metaphorical representations with little connection to the actual material reality defined by biomedicine. Our workshop will challenge this interpretative bias by examining these bodily representations on their own terms, taking them seriously as a form of knowledge that informed what healers believed and how they practiced. In doing so, we seek to arrive at a better understanding of these medical traditions while simultaneously shifting the analytical parameters that still tend to bias cross-cultural comparisons of bodily knowledge.

The invited workshop papers will incorporate one or more of the following methodological approaches:

(1) Documenting and analysing historical representations of body structure and materiality in Sinitic and East Asian medicines, as expressed in writings, images, artifacts, or practices

(2) Investigating the strategies and frameworks that practitioners of Sinitic and East Asian medicines use to acquire and assess knowledge about the body’s material structures

(3) Articulating analytical frameworks for understanding the relationship between bodily structure and function in Sinitic and East Asian healing systems and for conducting cross-cultural comparisons between different types of body knowledge.

Paper presenters and titles

1) Paul BUELL (Germany)
Researcher, Horst-Görtz-Stiftungs-Institute, Charite Medical School, Berlin
Paper title: "Brain Surgery and Head Injuries in the Huihui Yaofang 回回藥方' Muslim Medicinal Recipes'"

2) Susan BURNS (US)
Professor of History, University of Chicago
Paper title: From “Bad Karma” to “Bad Blood:” The Medicalisation of Leprosyin Early Modern Japan

3) Wung Seok CHA (Republic of Korea)
Associate Professor, Department of Medical History
College of Korean Medicine, Kyunghee University, Seoul
Paper title: “What were East Asian physicians looking at when they created and viewed illustrations of body structure?”

4) Shih-ch’i CHIN (Taiwan)
Associate Professor, Department of History, National Chengchi University,Taipei
Paper title: “The Emergence of ying(營) and wei(衛) in the medical texts of ancient China”

5) Leslie de VRIES (UK)
Research Fellow, EASTmedicine Faculty of Science and Technology
University of Westminster, London
Paper title: “Tracing the interior body in Sino-Vietnamese medicine”

6) Jianmin LI (Taiwan)
Research Fellow, Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taipei
Paper title: “Chinese ‘external medicine’ and its views of the body: A case study of the manuscript A Treatise on Seeking the Roots of Ulcer Medicine (Yangyi tan yuan lun)”

7) Andreas NIEHAUS (Belgium)
Chair, S. and E. Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Ghent
Paper title: "Eating ideas": Body, Food and Ideology in the Yôjôkun (1713)

8) Katharina SABERNIG (Austria)
Lecturer, Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies
Medical University of Vienna
Associated Researcher, Institute of Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Paper title: “Anatomical structures and the structure of anatomy in Tibetan medicine”

9) C. Pierce SALGUERO (USA)
Assistant Professor of Asian History
The State Abington College of the Pennsylvania State University, Abington, PA
Paper title: “Bodily Structure and Materiality in Medieval Chinese Buddhism”

10) Volker SCHEID (UK)
Director, EASTmedicine Research
Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Westminster, London
Paper title: “Locating illness in the collaterals (luo 絡): Exploring re-imaginations of the body during the Ming/Qing transition through the work of Ye Tianshi 葉天士 (1664-1746)”

11) C. Michele THOMPSON (US)
Professor, Department of History
Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT
Paper title: “Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Healthiest of them All? Diagnostic Use of the Skin in Vietnamese Traditional Medicine”

12) Daniel TRAMBAIOLO (Hong Kong)
Postdoctoral Researcher, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Hong Kong
Paper title: "Representation and Manipulation of the Material Body in Taki Motonori’s Kōkei saikyū hō 廣惠濟急方 (1790)"

13) Yi-Li WU (US)
Center Associate, Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Research Fellow, EASTmedicine, University of Westminster, London
Paper title: “Bodily structure and function in healing practice: the medical cases of Chinese trauma expert Hu Tingguang (fl. 1808-1815)”

14) Kiebok YI (UK)
Research Fellow, EASTmedicine Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Westminster, London
Paper title: “The Body Sentimental and Beyond: the medical body practiced andenvisioned by YI Chema in 19th Korea”

Wellcome Trust Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer
Department of History, Goldsmiths, University of London Paper title: “Metaphors of the body: Notes from the Tibetan Gyushi”

Invited commentators

Juhn Young AHN
Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Miranda BROWN
Associate Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Acupuncturist, Lotus Center, Ann Arbor, MI
President, Michigan Association for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Aileen DAS
Assistant Professor, Department of Classics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Michael SAPPOL
Historian, History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD

Professor, Department of History
Director, Eisenberg Institute of Historical Studies

Suzanna ZICK
Research Associate Professor
Integrative Medicine Program, Department of Family Medicine
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Please contact [email protected] for more event information.

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