Malaria and Global Networks of Tropical Medicine in Modern China, 1919-1950
Benedict, Carol A
Based on multi-sited primary archival sources, this dissertation explores the origins and development of tropical medicine as a new medical subfield in twentieth-century China from 1919 to 1950. Inspired by various network theories, including social network theory and the concept of global scientific networks, it illustrates how China became an international center for tropical medicine by the 1950s. It further demonstrates how modern Chinese tropical medicine developed out of the investigations and interactions of a transnational cadre of scientific and philanthropic elite (both Chinese and foreign) working in many different registers and on many different levels, who were linked together by complex local, national, and global networks.By illuminating the multifaceted experiences of these different networks in promoting Chinese tropical medicine and by demonstrating how they were, to varying degrees, driven by state-building, war and national defense, philanthropic, international cooperation, and individual professional agendas, this dissertation provides a new interpretation of the history of tropical medicine in China. It emends the “colonial medicine model,” still dominant in the field of the history of medicine, which treats tropical medicine solely as “a tool of empire” used to bolster western imperial expansion and colonial rule over the non-western world. While acknowledging that international philanthropic and scientific initiatives could represent a form of cultural imperialism, the emergence of tropical medicine in China, as elsewhere, undeniably had enormous and long-lasting benefits for public health.Using malariology as the primary case study, the main body of this dissertation covers four distinct but at times interconnected scientific and technological networks: the PUMC’s Division of Parasitology (1919-1941), the CFHS Department of Parasitology (1931-1936), the Yunnan Anti-Malaria Commission (1937-1945), and the Yunnan cinchona cultivation program (1930s-1950s). By situating the emergence of local, provincial, and national malaria research, modern mosquito control techniques, and cinchona cultivation in Republican China within a broader global context, this dissertation enhances our understanding of the processes through which Chinese technocratic elites, as members of disparate global scientific networks, contributed to biomedical knowledge and practice in the twentieth century.
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