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Hygienic Modernity

Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China

Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 415
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  • Book Info
    Hygienic Modernity
    Book Description:

    Placing meanings of health and disease at the center of modern Chinese consciousness, Ruth Rogaski reveals how hygiene became a crucial element in the formulation of Chinese modernity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Rogaski focuses on multiple manifestations across time of a single Chinese concept,weisheng-which has been rendered into English as "hygiene," "sanitary," "health," or "public health"-as it emerged in the complex treaty-port environment of Tianjin. Before the late nineteenth century,weishengwas associated with diverse regimens of diet, meditation, and self-medication.Hygienic Modernityreveals how meanings ofweisheng,with the arrival of violent imperialism, shifted from Chinese cosmology to encompass such ideas as national sovereignty, laboratory knowledge, the cleanliness of bodies, and the fitness of races: categories in which the Chinese were often deemed lacking by foreign observers and Chinese elites alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93060-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)

    Between Heaven and Earth, Man is most precious,

    His head resembles Heaven, his feet resemble Earth.

    The best way to cherish the body your father and mother gave you,

    Is to diligently study this ʺFive Happiness Longevityʺ technique.

    To guard life(wei sheng)one must know the three things to avoid:

    Great anger, great desire, and great drunkenness.

    If of the three, one still lurks,

    You must be on guard against the harm it may do to your True Original Qi.

    If you desire long life, first abstain from sex.

    If the Fire does not appear, then the Spirit is...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)

    The goal of this book is to place meanings of health and disease at the center of Chinese experiences of modernity. It does so by focusing on the multiple manifestations across time of a single Chinese word:weisheng. Today this term is variously rendered into English as ʺhygiene,ʺ ʺsanitary,ʺ ʺhealth,ʺ or ʺpublic health.ʺ Before the nineteenth century,weishengwas associated with a variety of regimens of diet, meditation, and self-medication that were practiced by the individual in order to guard fragile internal vitalities. With the arrival of armed imperialism, some of the most fundamental debates about how China and the...

  7. 1 ʺConquering the One Hundred Diseasesʺ: Weisheng before the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 22-47)

    What associations would the termweishengcreate in the mind of a Chinese scholar living in a nineteenth-century city? To understand howweishengas ʺhygienic modernityʺ emerged in the twentieth century requires an understanding ofweishengʹs textual antecedents. By the end of the Qing period (1644–1911), the termweishengappeared within a print matrix that encompassed well-known medical texts, household health manuals, and the Chinese classics. In the mind of a literate gentleman,weishengmight invoke a loose web of quotations and aphorisms about health and the body. Such an individual might know that the locus classicus forweisheng...

  8. 2 Health and Disease in Heavenʹs Ford
    (pp. 48-75)

    Pan Wei (1816–1894) spent much of his time in Tianjin pondering how he could best avoid illness and death. While filling a lowly post at the cityʹs imperial salt commissioner office, he studied ancient medical texts and culled their best techniques. On the first day of winter in 1858, he completed his compilation, entitledEssential Arts of Guarding Life (Weisheng yao shu). Essential Artsbegins with this meditation on the importance of guarding the bodyʹs vitalities: ʺWhether a man lives or dies, whether his sickness is serious or light, all depends upon the preservation or destruction of his Original...

  9. 3 Medical Encounters and Divergences
    (pp. 76-103)

    The year 1842 was an important one in British history. That year saw the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, which ended the Opium War, opened Hong Kong, Shanghai, and other Chinese ports to British Settlement, and signaled the beginning of Great Britainʹs military dominance over Asiaʹs largest empire, the Great Qing. It was also the year Edwin Chadwick published his monumentalReport on an Inquiry into the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain. In his report the lawyer, reformer, and utilitarian sought to demonstrate the primary importance of environmental factors in disease. He proclaimed through numbers...

  10. 4 Translating Weisheng in Treaty-Port China
    (pp. 104-135)

    Beginning in 1880, new treatises onweishengappeared in Chinaʹs treaty ports. A few curious Chinese readers in Tianjin would have noted their arrival. The basic content of these works was the same: Each informed the reader that chemistry dictated the proper path to health. The wordweishengon the cover signaled that these works contained wisdom on how to strengthen the body and prevent disease. But beyond the title page, readers encountered a world far removed from correlative cosmology, yin and yang, Hot and Cold. Here air, soil, water, and food were composed of specific combinations of discrete chemical...

  11. 5 Transforming Eisei in Meiji Japan
    (pp. 136-164)

    In 1872, the Japanese government sent a thirty-four-year-old doctor named Nagayo Sensai (1838–1902) to serve as medical observer on an official embassy to the United States and Europe. Upon his return to Tokyo, he struggled to find a way to translate what he had witnessed abroad. In Europe and America, he perceived that state attention to health had become an essential cornerstone of governance. To varying degrees, each nation supported a web of engineering, education, policing, and laboratories that linked the health of the individual to the health of the nation. Each language had its own word to describe...

  12. 6 Deficiency and Sovereignty: Hygienic Modernity in the Occupation of Tianjin, 1900–1902
    (pp. 165-192)

    In the summer of 1900, thousands of peasant practitioners of martial arts began to attack foreigners and Christians in north China. Together with Qing military forces, these ʺBoxersʺ lay siege to foreign outposts in Tianjin and Beijing. In response, six Western nations, together with Russia and Japan, dispatched a massive international relief force to rescue besieged foreigners, annihilate the Boxers, and chastise the Qing court.

    The bloody suppression of the Boxer Uprising by imperial powers became a major turning point in the history of modern China. In James Heviaʹs words, the aftermath of the Boxer Uprising ʺleft a brandʺ on...

  13. 7 Seen and Unseen: The Urban Landscape and Boundaries of Weisheng
    (pp. 193-224)

    In the aftermath of the Boxer Uprising, hygienic modernity not only touched the body in Tianjin; it also touched the city and transformed it with its touch. Cities throughout China underwent dramatic changes in the first decades of the twentieth century. Towering defensive walls fell, trains looped in, and trams rumbled through streets. Single-story courtyard houses were demolished, multistory buildings with balustrades, portals, and domes rose in their place. While foreigners erected architecture that projected the power of capitalism and imperialism, Chinese reformers sought to display new values of progressiveness politics through construction of public spaces, public facades, and rational...

  14. 8 Weisheng and the Desire for Modernity
    (pp. 225-253)

    In the 1930 short story ʺEtiquette and Hygieneʺ (Liyi he weisheng), the writer Liu Naʹou created a vision of modern Shanghai embodied in a sexually liberated Chinese woman, Keqing, and her sophisticated lawyer husband, Qiming. Toward the end of the story, Qiming takes a walk from the gleaming International Settlement to the Chinese city. Once Qiming enters the Chinese neighborhood, he has entered a ʺdanger zone.ʺ His nostrils are assailed by ʺghastly stenches.ʺ Prostitutes solicit customers in alleys smelling of urine. Liu Naʹou observes that in the Chinese city, ʺhealth had fled to a remote place,ʺ and all that was...

  15. 9 Japanese Management of Germs in Tianjin
    (pp. 254-284)

    On July 7, 1937, fighting broke out between Chinese and Japanese troops at Marco Polo Bridge outside of Beijing. By July 31, Japanese forces had occupied all of Chinese-administered Tianjin. Japanese military officers and Chinese civilians collaborated to form a new government for the city. The new government was embedded in a system formed by the far-flung Japanese military, local Japanese Concession concerns, and a network of Tianjin elites, many of whom had been educated in Japan.

    Tianjinʹs memory of the Japanese occupation—as told by official PRC chroniclers—is one of unrelenting hardship and humiliation. The picture of city...

  16. 10 Germ Warfare and Patriotic Weisheng
    (pp. 285-299)

    In the winter of 1952, reports of American use of germ warfare in the Korean War hit the front pages of newspapers throughout the Peopleʹs Republic of China. Government sources accused ʺAmerican imperialistsʺ(Mei di)of using biological weapons against innocent civilian populations in Manchuria. Radio addresses, banners, posters, and public announcements urged the populace to rise and fight against the evil insects, spiders, and bacteria that threatened to spread pestilence within Chinaʹs borders. The weapon the Communists wielded against germ warfare wasweisheng. Like the vision that had been embraced before by regimes throughout the twentieth century, thisweisheng...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 300-306)

    Throughout the twentieth century,weishengbecame an instrumental discourse informing the Chinese eliteʹs vision of a modern ideal, a vehicle through which they hoped state, society, and the individual would be transformed. As grasped by Meiji bureaucrats, late Qing reformers, and Guomindang modernizers,weishengcentered concerns of national sovereignty, institutional discipline, and government administration on the site of the body. In an uncanny way, the single modern Chinese termweishengencompasses what Foucault called ʺ biopower,ʺ a series of techniques through which the state undertakes the administration of life, and ʺgovernmentality,ʺ the idea that individuals internalize disciplinary regimes and thus...

  18. Glossary
    (pp. 307-318)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 319-364)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 365-396)
  21. Index
    (pp. 397-401)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 402-402)