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Glocalizing Medicine in the Canton/Hong Kong Region in Late Qing China (1840-1911)

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The Canton/ Hong Kong region was known for its cosmopolitanism with long- standing multi-cultural presence due to trans-continental trade since at least the 17th century. This lecture will look at the process of Glocalizing medicine by focusing on two points:

To see how Western medical concepts were ‘sold’ to the Cantonese and how they were understood. Two aspects of the process will be highlighted: the adaptation of missionary ‘hospitals’ in Canton, and the rendering of missionary medical texts into Chinese with Chinese student- translators playing a critical role.

Based on two major global epidemics: bubonic plague of the 1890s and jiaoqi/beriberi from the 1880s onward, to see how these inter-regional outbreaks were observed, researched, understood, reframed, and managed by both Western and Chinese doctors and institutions. This study attempts to show the differing roles of Western medical missionaries, Chinese doctors, patients, students and publishers in integrating western medical practice in the region. On the other hand the stories of the plague and jiaoqi/beriberi epidemics at the turn of the century will illustrate how a rapidly deteriorating epidemiological situation in the region challenged existing Western and Chinese framing of diseases and how new strategies of observation, therapeutics, management of patients had to be developed.

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