Chinese medicine practitioners and substances in contemporary China
Friday, June 7, 2013, 3 pm, KWZ, Room 0.609
Dr. Lena Springer
EASTmedicine research centre, University of Westminster, London
This talk presents findings of a multi-sited ethnography based on recent fieldwork in Sichuan province, China: in a remote region and in a global centre of science and trade. Scholars and medical circles in the region struggle to write its histories. The East-West divide of Sichuan province provides a test-field that reflects the overall geographic and
cultural frictions of the Chinese territorial and symbolic order. I will compare two “medical capitals” (yaodu) in Sichuan province: 1) one of them is contemporarily a global transfer centre for trade and pharma-science, and 2) the other one in the same province has had a similar function in the past but is now situated in the remote (Tibetan) West
of the province. My encounters with providers and prescribers of medicinal substances illustrate how their practice and ways of thinking differ fundamentally from the official map of ethnic relations in China. This is true for both Tibetan and Chinese physicians, in a monastery and in a local clinic.
Chinese medicines are circulated and prescribed in Europe today, and in China where they originate from. Diverse practitioners, pharmaceutical providers, and researchers are changing the ways how the medicinal substances are processed and evaluated. This circulation and prescription has local histories throughout world regions – but also within (Han-)China itself. Pharmaceutical evidence discourses and regulatory frameworks have their own global histories in China and East Asia. Fieldwork illuminates the historically important relation between remote South-West China and a scholarly influential region (“Jiangnan”).