Global Grants, Asia-Pacific, China Global Lives of Medicines

July 15, 2022
By Penn Global Initiatives

On July 11th and 12th, Dr. Hsiao-wen Cheng, associate professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, hosted a hybrid conference at Perry World House on the Global Lives of Medicines. The two-day conference brought together faculty and scholars from over a dozen academic institutions to share and discuss their working papers on the cross-cultural exchange of medicines, and to explore the impact of global trade networks on local healing practices across Asia and around the world.

Dr. Cheng was among the list of conference presenters and discussants, previewing her new working paper on Recipes, Drug Market, and Healing Culture in Song China: A Case Study of Cangzhu (Dark Atractylodes Rhizome) and Baizhu (White Atractylodes Rhizome). Dr. Cheng, whose research focuses on the intersection of gender, sexuality, medicine, and religion in Chinese history, also published her first book Divine, Demonic, and Disordered: Women without Men in the Song Dynasty China in January 2021.

The conference consisted of four panels focusing on senses and materiality; ritual, healing and markets; dietetics and novel materia medica; and knowledge, trade and modernity. The conference also included a visit to the Kislak Center for a tour of their collection of East Asian medicine manuscripts, as well as a visit to the Won Institute, a Pennsylvania-based acupuncture school that specializes in Won Buddhism and the application of healing arts.

Dr. Hsiao-wen Cheng was among the 21 Penn faculty who received an award this year from the Penn Global Research and Engagement Grant Program. In organizing this conference with support from Penn Global, Dr. Cheng aims to catalyze collaborate research on the roles materiality and bodily experience play in the production and transmission of medical knowledge.

The event was made possible through a collaboration between Dr. Hsiao-wen Cheng and Yan Liu (SUNY Buffalo), Wee-Siang Margaret Ng (College of Wooster), Ruth Yun-ju Chen (Academia Sinica), and Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano (Penn).

Additional information about the conference, including access to presentation abstracts, is available on the event website.

One panelist, seated, discusses his working paper, while the other three panelists, also seated side-by-side, face the speaker listening
The Global Lives of Medicine: Materials, Markets, and Healing Practices Across Asia was organized by Dr. Hsiao-wen Cheng, associate professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and hosted at Perry World House on July 11 and 12, 2022.
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