Health, Medicine and Society in Late Imperial and Modern China

HKU Course: Health, Medicine, and Society in Late Imperial and Modern China

This survey course explores how contested meanings of disease, health, and the body reflect larger struggles between tradition and modernity, social change and continuity, and questions of national sovereignty in late imperial and modern China. Students will gain a historical vantage on urgent contemporary challenges. Beginning in the late imperial and Republican eras, the first part of the course will focus on the modernization of Chinese medicine, the development of public health infrastructures, and the medicalization of footbinding. In the second part of the course, we will investigate how the Communist Revolution transformed health, medicine and social life in China. We will examine patriotic health campaigns and the barefoot doctor program as a window on the collectivization and politicization of social life in Maoist China. In the final part of the course, we will examine new political and moral economies of health in the post-Mao era. Case studies include state control of reproduction, mental illness as an emerging disease category, and the intersection of social inequalities and infectious disease epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and SARS.