China Colloquium

"Artemisinin and Chinese Medicine as Tu Science" by Professor Jia-chen Fu, Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures, Emory University

Time: Oct. 19, 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Location: Modern Languages 201, 532 Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, GA 30322

Open and free to the public

The story of discovery of artemisinin highlights the diversity of scientific values across time and space. Resituating artemisinin research within a broader temporal framework allows us to understand how Chinese drugs like qinghao came to articulate a space for scientific experimentation and innovation through its embodiment of alternating clusters of meanings associated with tu and yang within scientific discourse. Tu science, which was associated with terms like native, Chinese, local, rustic, mass, and crude, articulated a radical vision of science in the service of socialist revolutionary ideals. Yang science, which signified foreign, Western, elite, and professional, tended to bear the hallmarks of professionalism, transnational networks in education and training, and an emphasis on basic or foundational research. With respect to medical research, the case of artemisinin highlights how the constitution of socialist science as an interplay of tu and yang engendered different scientific values and parameters for scientific endeavor. Modern medical research in Maoist China could harness the productive energies of mass participation to technical expertise in its investigations of Chinese drugs, and under the banner of tu science, it became possible and scientifically legitimate to research Chinese drugs in ways that had previously provoked resistance and controversy.

About the speaker

Jia-Chen “Wendy” Fu is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Emory University. After receiving her M.Phil and Ph.D. in History from Yale University, Wendy was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley (2009-2010) and then Assistant Professor in the History Department of Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH). Her primary research focuses on how new scientific disciplines and practices shaped conceptions of the Chinese physical body and diet. Her book, The Other Milk: Soy, Science, and Sovereignty in Modern China, explores the curious paths through the conception of the Chinese diet as a deficient one led to the reinterpretation, rediscovery, and reassignment of social and scientific meanings of a local foodstuff, the soybean, in twentieth century China and will be published by the University of Washington Press. Her teaching interests include modern Chinese history, science and society in modern China, history of the body,  food and culture, and East Asian martial arts.