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Hygienic Modernity

Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China

Ruth Rogaski (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 420 pages
ISBN: 9780520283824
May 2014
$34.95, £27.00
Other Formats Available:
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, weisheng was associated with diverse regimens of diet, meditation, and self-medication. Hygienic Modernity reveals how meanings of weisheng, 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.
List of Illustrations
Prologue: Sun the Perfected One’s Song of Guarding Life

1. "Conquering the One Hundred Diseases":
Weisheng before the Twentieth Century
2. Health and Disease in Heaven’s Ford
3. Medical Encounters and Divergences
4. Translating Weisheng in Treaty-Port China
5. Transforming Eisei in Meiji Japan
6. Deficiency and Sovereignty:
Hygienic Modernity in the Occupation of Tianjin, 1900–1902
7. Seen and Unseen:
The Urban Landscape and Boundaries of Weisheng
8. Weisheng and the Desire for Modernity
9. Japanese Management of Germs in Tianjin
10. Germ Warfare and Patriotic Weisheng

Ruth Rogaski is Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University.
“A splendid book, multilayered, harmonious in its narrative voice, both lucid and theoretically sophisticated, able to hold the attention of specialist and generalist alike. . . . The clear prose and adroit examples make the book extremely readable, while the author’s sensitivity to alternative theoretical and interpretive possibilities sustains an intellectually complex framework.”—Harvard Journal Of Asiatic Stds
"Brilliantly conceived and superbly researched, this excellent study charts the transnational forces and circulating discourses on health that helped constitute a modern concept of hygiene in China. Over the course of the twentieth century the state, scientists, physicians, and the military all came to participate in the health management of aggregated populations, and eventually in the fitness of the race and nation. Insightfully placed within the context of a global modernity and the layered imperialisms of Japan and the "West," this is transnational history writing at its best. Indeed, it is one of the finest books we now have on modernity in East Asia."—Takashi Fujitani, University of California, San Diego, and author of Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War

"Rogaski examines health and disease in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, from the years before it was opened as a treaty port to the early People's Republic. She shows how weisheng, or "hygienic modernity," was adopted by foreigners and local elites in the service of imperialism, national strength, and revolution. Hygienic Modernity breaks new intellectual ground in our understanding of imperialism, providing local texture and transnational reach. It is ingeniously researched and elegantly argued."—Gail Hershatter, author of Dangerous Pleasures: Prostitution and Modernity in Twentieth-Century Shanghai

Joseph Levenson Book Prize - Post 1900, Association for Asian Studies

John K. Fairbank, American Historical Association

Berkshire Conference First Book Prize, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians

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