ASIAN 551 - Practicum in Asian Studies
Winter 2017, Section 001 - Asian Medical Encounters
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
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Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
ASIAN 550.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Men and women in Asia have long encountered unfamiliar traditions of healing, but scholars disagree about what happened during those encounters. Did foreign ideas displace older ways of healing? What role did language and culture play in shaping the reception of such ideas? To what extent did encounters with foreign ideas and curative techniques lead to the reinvention of indigenous traditions of medicine or to the creation of syncretic forms of healings? Did these syncretic forms of healing empower people in Asia, or did they contribute to their subjugation vis-à-vis imperialist powers?

In order to answer these questions, this course investigates different historical examples of medical encounters, including the introduction of Buddhist medicine into China during late antiquity; the meeting of Chinese, Persian, and Arab medical materials and texts in the medieval Indian Ocean trade; the reception of Islamic and Greek works of medicine in early modern India; the imposition of Western medicine in nineteenth-century China, India, and Southeast Asia; the reconfiguration and reinvention of indigenous medical traditions in response to Westernization during different twentieth-century nationalist movements. By paying attention to the people, materials, and contexts behind medical encounters, this seminar encourages students to think hard not only about the meeting of curative traditions, but also to develop a critical apparatus for analyzing cultural contact and exchange more generally.

Course Requirements:

  • Weekly response papers (5 pages): 40%
  • 10-15 minute Powerpoint presentation on reading: 10% (presenter does not have to write a weekly response but is responsible for doing all of the readings for that week)
  • Final research paper on a topic of your choice (20-25 pages): 50%

Intended Audience:

PhD students in Asian humanities and social sciences; MA students from the Centers

Class Format:

one 3-hour meeting per week


ASIAN 551 - Practicum in Asian Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
M 6:00PM - 9:00PM

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