Drs He and Huan, the first named physicians in the history of Chinese medicine
I am Professor of East Asian Medicines at the School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster and Dircetor of its EASTmedicine Research Centre. I hold degrees in social psychology (BA Hons) from the University of Sussex and in medical anthropology (PhD) from the University of Cambridge. From 1999-2002 I was a Wellcome Trust postdoctoral research fellow in the history of medicine at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. I am currently President of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine (IASTAM), a unique forum for academics and practitioners of Asian medicines.
If my medical practice is informed by knowledge of East Asian medical cultures and their history, my academic research benefits from understanding how this medicine is actually practiced. It is focused on the historical development of the scholarly medical traditions in East Asia, their encounter with the West in the 20th century, and their current diffusion throughout the world. This encompasses wider interests in the nature of medicine and science, the role of China and East Asia in the world, as well as the interrogation of tradition, modernity and globalisation and their conjunction to diverse cultures, different kinds of knowledge and a multitude of technologies. My approach to these problems is interdisciplinary and shaped by diverse genealogies. If it needs a label, then the cultural studies of science, technology, and medicine will do.
I have published two studies that seek to address the wider questions outlined above. Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China examines the constitution of modern-day Chinese medicine as an intrinsically diverse and heterogenous tradition. Currents of Tradition in Chinese Medicine, 1626- 2006 extends this discussion backwards in time by seeking to understand how Chinese medicine functions as a living tradition, where almost everything can change yet no one experiences any ruptures with the past. Other articles and essays I have published on the subject can be found under the Articles section of this site.
More recently my research interests have moved towards examining how East Asian medical traditions may be integrated into contemporary health care without thereby losing their independence and effectiveness. This is by no means easy and unproblematic, for it involves many difficult translations - from past to present, East to West, network to system - which are difficult to conceptualize and deal with and therefore rarely confronted in conventional clinical research.
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