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Submarine Telegraphy and the Hunt for Gutta Percha

Challenge and Opportunity in a Global Trade

Series:

Helen Godfrey

In Submarine Telegraphy and the Hunt for Gutta Percha, Helen Godfrey traces the connections between submarine telegraphy and the peoples of Singapore and Sarawak (Borneo) who supplied 'gutta percha', the latex insulating the world network of undersea telegraph cables. The book examines the complex inter-relationships linking metropolitan and local environments in a trade once described as a matter of interest to the whole civilized world. Using previously untapped corporate and official archives, trade data and a rich documentary record, the study explores the roles of cable producers, scientists, administrators, and local Chinese and indigenous traders. It reveals how a global trade may transcend technological, geographic and cross-cultural challenges, even hostilities. Motivations and outcomes are more complex than simple commercial gain.

In the Name of the Battle against Piracy

Ideas and Practices in State Monopoly of Maritime Violence in Europe and Asia in the Period of Transition

Series:

Edited by Atsushi Ota

In the Name of the Battle against Piracy discusses antipiracy campaigns in Europe and Asia in the 16th-19th centuries. Nine contributors argue how important antipiracy campaigns were for the establishment of a (colonial) state, because piracy was a threat not only to maritime commerce, but also to its sovereignty.

'Battle against piracy' offered a good reason for a state to claim its authority as the sole protector of people, and to establish peace, order, and sovereignty. In fact, as the contributors explain, the story was not that simple, because states sometimes attempted to make economic and political use of piracy, while private interests were strongly involved in antipiracy politics. State formation processes were not clearly separated from non-state elements.

Contributors are: Kudo Akihito, Satsuma Shinsuke, Suzuki Hideaki, Lakshmi Sabramanian, Ota Atsushi, James Francis Warren, Fujita Tatsuo, Murakami Ei, and Toyooka Yasufumi.

Kelly Hacker Jones

Abstract

In the early 1970s, the so-called “acupuncture craze” swept America, introducing many Americans for the first time to this supposedly ancient therapy. Acupuncture was advertised as a cure-all, effective for everything from arthritis to smoking cessation, much to the dismay of the American Medical Association and other professional organizations. By April 1973, Nevada had passed a bill that legalized the use of acupuncture and established a State Board for Chinese Medicine, independent of its State Board for Medicine. In response, American physicians pursued two courses of action: they initiated biomedical studies that aimed at proving either a physiological or psychological effect generated by acupuncture, and they advocated for state-level regulations that restricted the use of acupuncture as an experimental therapy. Building on the work of historians of alternative medicine—including Anne Harrington and James Whorton—this paper contributes to our understanding of the position of alternative therapies within American medical practice.

Emily Baum

Abstract

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Western physicians and missionaries opened several psychopathic hospitals in urban China, including the John Kerr Refuge for the Insane in Guangzhou and the Beijing Psychopathic Hospital. Although local families relied on the charitable services offered by these facilities, they generally remained ambivalent about, if not outright resistant to, neuropsychiatric theories and practices. This article examines how and why ordinary families made medical decisions when faced with the problem of mental illness. In contrast to previous research on biomedicine in the Republican period (1911–1949), which has tended to emphasize issues relating to ideology and cultural nationalism, this paper argues that support of (and resistance to) neuropsychiatry was less often framed in terms of identity politics than in terms of far more practical concerns, such as access, intelligibility, and effectiveness. Disparities in how “mental” disorders were conceptualized in Chinese and Western medicine, problems pertaining to translation and communication, and the very ineffectiveness of psychiatric treatment itself help to explain why families may have patronized psychopathic hospitals but remained unconvinced by the epistemic foundations of neuropsychiatric medicine.