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Between Nativism and Globalism: Mao, Medicine, and the Making of Wartime China

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, 1:30 – 2:40 p.m.

CAMPUS LOCATION: Gowen Hall (GWN) East Asia Library Seminar Room (M232)

EVENT SPONSORS: China Studies Program 


Wayne Soon
Assistant Professor 
Vassar College

This presentation unpacks the ways in which Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communists constructed a nativist rhetoric and nationalistic history towards wartime medicine, even though in reality they were dependent on a much more globally inclusive form of healthcare brought to the base areas by Overseas Chinese doctors and their foreign counterparts during the Second World War from 1937-1945. On the one hand, Mao and his supporters were instrumental in shaping the representations of healthcare in Yanan, particularly by reimagining foreign doctors such as Norman Bethune as a Chinese martyr as well as promoting the patriotic use of Classical Chinese Medicine. On the other hand, the Overseas Chinese medical personnel and their local counterparts were quietly fashioning a cosmopolitan form of biomedicine that saved lives, and molded new ways of healing, consumption, learning, and fighting in the base areas.

Wayne Soon (B.A. Carleton, Ph.D. Princeton) is an Assistant Professor of East Asian History at Vassar College, with a particular interest in how international ideas and practices of medicine, institutional building, and diaspora have shaped the region’s interaction with its people and the world in the twentieth century. He is working on a book manuscript that examines the history of medicine in China through the lens of the Overseas Chinese who brought to China new biomedical theories, practices, and institutions in the first half of the twentieth century. His journal articles and book reviews are published in Twentieth Century China, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Asian Studies Review, Asian Medicine, Social History of Medicine, and East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal.

Earlier Event: November 1
Advanced Russian Table
Later Event: November 1
Study Abroad: What's It Really Like?