Cover of Global Medicine in China by Wayne Soon
Global Medicine in China
A Diasporic History
Wayne Soon

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October 2020
304 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503611931
Paperback ISBN: 9781503614000

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In 1938, one year into the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese military found itself in dire medical straits. Soldiers were suffering from severe malnutrition, typhus, and scabies, and were unable to receive blood transfusions for their wounds. The dire need for medical assistance prompted an unprecedented flowering of scientific knowledge in China and Taiwan throughout the twentieth century. Wayne Soon draws on comprehensive archival research from three continents to argue that Overseas Chinese were key to the development of biomedicine during this period, in leveraging their diasporic identities, Western education, and transnational connections. The remarkable expansion of medical care and education that they spurred by establishing military medical institutions saved more than four million lives and trained more than fifteen thousand medical personnel. Moreover, the wartime introduction of military medicine shifted biomedicine out of elite, urban civilian institutions and laboratories and transformed it into an adaptive field-based practice for all. The values of universal care, practical medical education, and mobile medicine are all lasting legacies of this effort.

About the author

Wayne Soon is Assistant Professor of History at Vassar College.