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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Sare Aricanli

Aricanli, Sare (2014). Plurality in Qing imperial medicine: examining institutional formations beyond the Imperial Medical Bureau. Asia Pacific Perspectives 12(1): 61-83.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This article illustrates the value of using the lens of institutional history to study
imperial medicine. Identifying and incorporating a range of organizations and
posts into the narrative of imperial medicine in eighteenth-century China shows
the breadth of medical activity during this time. The most familiar institution
of imperial medicine is the Imperial Medical Bureau, and this study argues that
we can greatly benefit from including the history of other formations such as the
Imperial Pharmacy and the Ministry of Imperial Stables, Herds, and Carriages.
Such an outlook reveals the overlapping spheres of institutions, practitioners,
and medicinals between human and equine medicine, implies that ethnicity may
have been a factor in the organization of medicine, and points to a wider range
of medical practitioners and patients within the imperial realm. Furthermore,
multiplicity did not only exist among institutions and practitioners, but also on the
linguistic level, as evidenced by the divergence in the meaning of some Manchu
and Chinese terminology. Finally, these pluralities suggest that an understanding
of imperial medicine as being limited to the Imperial Medical Bureau greatly
underestimates the diversity of institutions, posts, ethnicities, and languages
within the eighteenth-century Chinese imperial medical world.