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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 12(1); 2003 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2003;12(1): 13-33.
Cultural Hegemony of Medicine in Modern China: Focused on Debates between Modernists and Neotraditionalists, 1900s~1930s
Jong Chan Lee1
1Department of Medical Humanities and Social Medicine, Ajou University, Korea.
2Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, USA.
The paper is to explore into how cultural hegemony had been established in modern China, focused on ideological debates and political conflicts between modernists and traditionalists. Relying upon historical, anthropological, and medicohistorical researches respectively by Paul Cohen, Judith Farquhar and Paul Unschuld, I criticize three research paradigms that had prevailed in modern Chinese history: (i) the 'Chinese response to Western impact' perspective fails to explain how Chinese Western medical practitioners founded their own independent organization; (ii) a dichotomy of 'tradition versus modernity' is, from an epistemological viewpoint, incompatible with an ontological view of illness shared between traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine; and (iii) while those Weberian social scientists tend to consider culture as the system of meanings and symbols, separated from their temporal and spatial matrix, they neglect political and historical spheres that are inevitably represented in cultural hegemony. My arguments are divided into two parts. The first part investigates that whereas Chinese modernists aggressively supported an immediate institutionalization of Western medicine for getting adapted to social Darwinian world, neotraditionalists tried to maintain medical identity through national essence backed up by Chinese civilization. In the second part, the paper illuminates how having emerged as a conceptual idea for moving beyond 'tradition versus modernity', 'state medicine' became popularized to solve public health problems in 1930s' rural China. In conclusion, cultural hegemonyyoriented debates that were seriously staged in the 1920s and 1930s between modernists and neo-traditionalists were transformed to "scientification of traditional Chinese medicine and popularization of Western medicine" a slogan proposed by Mao ZeDong.
Key Words: Cultural Hegemony, Modernists, Neotraditionalists, State medicine, Mao ZeDong
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