In classical Chinese medicine, blood in the urine, stool, or phlegm was a sign of disease in one of the body’s internal organs, not in the blood itself. In the nineteenth century, Chinese authors began to see blood in itself as a potential site of disease. This development was amplified by contact with the west, where blood was seen as the medium and substrate of diseases caused by parasites, bacteria, and nutritional deficiencies. This amalgamation of ideas generated a new body-image and phenomenology, focused on the status of a person’s blood. New herbal therapies for enlivening and nourishing the blood soon competed with cod liver oil and iron tonics from the West; biomedical understandings of blood were reinterpreted within Chinese popular culture; and comparative analyses of blood groups, red- and white-cell counts, and other aspects of blood health were used to measure racial and national fitness. This paper examines the process by which blood became both a metaphor for the health of the Chinese nation and a major theoretical and clinical development within “Chinese” medicine.

in Historical epistemology and the making of modern Chinese medicine

Medicine has always been a significant tool of an empire. This book focuses on the issue of the contestation of knowledge, and examines the non-Western responses to Western medicine. The decolonised states wanted Western medicine to be established with Western money, which was resisted by the WHO. The attribution of an African origin to AIDS is related to how Western scientists view the disease as epidemic and sexually threatening. Veterinary science, when applied to domestic stock, opens up fresh areas of conflict which can profoundly influence human health. Pastoral herd management was the enemy of land enclosure and efficient land use in the eyes of the colonisers. While the native Indians of the United States were marginal participants in the delivery or shaping of health care, the Navajo passively resisted Western medicine by never giving up their own religion-medicine. The book discusses the involvement of the Rockefeller Foundation in eradicating the yellow fever in Brazil and hookworm in Mexico. The imposition of Western medicine in British India picked up with plague outbreaks and enforced vaccination. The plurality of Indian medicine is addressed with respect to the non-literate folk medicine of Rajasthan in north-west India. The Japanese have been resistant to the adoption of the transplant practices of modern scientific medicine. Rumours about the way the British were dealing with plague in Hong Kong and Cape Town are discussed. Thailand had accepted Western medicine but suffered the effects of severe drug resistance to the WHO treatment of choice in malaria.

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Western medicine as contested knowledge

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the range and extent of non-Western responses to Western medicine across the whole spectrum of Western imperialist influence. It ranges from Japan in the east to the Navajo of the North American plains in the west, and is the first to put the issue of the contestation of knowledge at its centre. It shows that the first stage, with respect to medicine, consisted primarily of a 'donor-recipient' relationship being expected by the decolonised states, wanting Western medicine to be established with Western money. The book claims that current discussion of the origin of the most prominent of modern diseases, AIDS, is itself a piece of neo-imperialistic racism. It argues that careful treatment of rumours can yield valuable insights into the nature of the relationship between colonisers and colonised.

in Western medicine as contested knowledge