" The Past as a Foreign Country: Recent research on Chinese medical history in Taiwan"



Chinese medical history is a new and flourishing field in Taiwan.  Most of the related publications appear in the past ten years, and the community is a fairly small group although many students express their interest in joining the field.  While most of the pioneers have their first degrees in history, more and more young scholars join the research from various backgrounds in recent years.  Historians who cross the conventional boundaries to work on the new sub-field consider traditional Chinese medicine a venue in understanding the culture and society of a given period.  Some investigate medical documents as if they were ethnographical reports, and find medicine itself a cultural expression.  Younger scholars who are either trained or well-versed in the history of science, diving into a number of subjects such as medical practices, the birth of medical knowledge, and the significance of interactions between patients and healers.  Free from the responsibility or burden to prove or to enhance the validity of traditional Chinese medicine, medical historians in Taiwan often undertake the research with an anthropological taste and gradually find their audience not only in western Sinologists but also historians of science.