Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China: Plurality and Synthesis / Edition 1

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As a traditional healing art that has established a contemporary global presence, Chinese medicine defies categories and raises many interesting questions. If Chinese medicine is "traditional," why has it not disappeared with the rest of traditional Chinese society? If, as some claim, it is a science, what does that imply about what we call science? What is the secret of Chinese medicine's remarkable adaptability that has allowed it to prosper for more than 2,000 years? In Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China Volker Scheid presents an ethnography of Chinese medicine that seeks to answer these questions, but his ethnography is informed by some atypical approaches.
Scheid, a medical anthropologist and practitioner of Chinese medicine in practice since 1983, has produced an ethnography that accepts plurality as an intrinsic and nonreducible aspect of medical practice. It has been widely noted that a patient visiting ten different practitioners of Chinese medicine may receive ten different prescriptions for the same complaint, yet many of these various treatments may be effective. In attempting to illuminate the plurality in Chinese medical practice, Scheid redefines-and in some cases abandons-traditional anthropological concepts such as tradition, culture, and practice in favor of approaches from disciplines such as science and technology studies, social psychology, and Chinese philosophy. As a result, his book sheds light not only on Chinese medicine but also on the Western academic traditions used to examine it and presents us with new perspectives from which to deliberate the future of Chinese medicine in a global context.
Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China is the product of two decades of research including numerous interviews and case studies. It will appeal to a western academic audience as well as practitioners of Chinese medicine and other interested medical professionals, including those from western biomedicine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Volker Scheid reveals the dynamic context of Chinese medicine and its continuous process of encounter, interpretation, negotiation, and synthesis. This study’s depth of detail and breathtaking interdisciplinary scope provide a multidimensional understanding of Chinese medicine and the forces that nourish, constrain, and transform it. Any serious scholar or practitioner will want to read and reread this groundbreaking volume.”—Ted J. Kaptchuk, author of The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine

“Volker Scheid’s book is a seriously original work. One of its great strengths is Scheid’s refusal to see Chinese medicine as either unitary or centred. He insists on its plurality, with incursions of Western biomedicine as just more elements within an already multiple field of medical practices. The other great strength is Scheid’s refusal to see medicine as static. He brings to the fore the creative interplay between Chinese and Western traditions, the dynamism that can emerge in the intersection of radically disparate techniques, remedies, and conceptual schemes. Along the way, Scheid develops a fascinating epistemology and ontology of agency, human and nonhuman, that makes sense of the plurality and syntheses that he confronts us with. This is a path-breaking book—one that could be a model for future work in the history of medicine and in cultural studies at large.”—Andrew Pickering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822328728
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Series: Science and Cultural Theory Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,434,112
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Volker Scheid is Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies, at the University of London.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables
Timeline on Chinese History
Geographical Map of China
Introduction 1
Pt. I Chinese Medicine and the Problem of Plurality
1 Orientations 9
2 Plurality and Synthesis: Toward a Multisited Ethnography of Chinese Medicine 27
Pt. II Contemporary Chinese Medicine: Six Perspectives
3 Hegemonic Pluralism: Chinese Medicine in a Socialist State 65
4 Dilemmas and Tactical Agency: Patients and the Transformation of Chinese Medicine 107
5 Shaping Chinese Medicine: Integration, Innovation, Synthesis 134
6 Students, Disciples, and the Art of Social Networking: Becoming a Physician of Chinese Medicine 164
7 Bianzheng lunzhi: The Emergent Pivot of Contemporary Chinese Medicine 200
8 Creating Knowledge: The Origins of Plurality 238
Pt. III Anthropological Interventions
9 The Future of Chinese Medicine 263
App Four Attempts at Systematizing Pattern Differentiation and Treatment Determination 275
Notes 291
Bibliography of Premodern Chinese Medical Texts 357
Bibliography of Modern Chinese and Western Sources 361
Index 397
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