Files in this item



application/pdfHUR-DISSERTATION-2019.pdf (1MB)Restricted to U of Illinois
(no description provided)PDF


Title:Professional medicine and race: Medical missionaries in Qing China and global history of modern medicine, 1807-1912
Author(s):Hur, Yun Young
Director of Research:Chow, Kai-wing
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Chow, Kai-wing
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Entenmann, Robert; Hogarth, Rana; Cai, Zong-qi
Department / Program:E. Asian Languages & Cultures
Discipline:E Asian Languages & Cultures
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Medical missionaries, Professional medicine, Race
Abstract:My dissertation seeks to chart the course in which Protestant evangelism intersected with the localization of Western professional medical practices, particularly surgery, in late Qing China. Current scholarship on Christian missions in Qing China has generally assumed a causal relationship between evangelism and Western professional medicine. Most scholars have taken for granted that Protestant missionaries were responsible for the introduction of Western professional medicine into China in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Challenging this presumed relationship between Protestant missions and professional medicine, my dissertation argues that medical missions using professional medicine were by no means a natural outgrowth of Protestant evangelism. My dissertation demonstrates that medical missions in Qing China were initially opposed by “clerical missionaries” and Protestant missionary boards in the UK and America that sponsored missions in China. It was in fact the professionally trained medical practitioners who happened to be missionaries that initiated, promoted, and developed institutions of modern medicine in Qing China. Most of these “medical missionaries” were surgeons from the UK and America. I situate my research in the intersection where three fields of historical studies—mission history, medical history, and racial science—converge. My dissertation explores the professionalization of medical missions in Qing China through an interdisciplinary and transnational approach, taking note of the impact of professionalization of medicine on Protestant evangelism in Europe, America, and China. From a religious perspective, my project deals with how the professionalization of medical missions is conducive to the advance of Protestant evangelism in late Qing China. Students of Christian missions have ignored the tension between Protestant evangelism and professional medicine. Protestant clerical missionaries were not interested in healing bodies but saving souls. The use of medicine was only a means of convenience but not part of the evangelical strategy to achieve their religious goals. The current view that the development of modern medicine in China was the natural outcome of Christian evangelism was only an anachronistic claim made by missionary societies. My dissertation demonstrates how medical missionaries as credentialed medical practitioners strove to reconcile the tension between religion and science through the professionalization of medical missions. Unlike existing studies of medical missions, my dissertation approaches mission history in China from the global perspective of professionalization of medicine. My research examines the development of Western professional medical practices in cross-cultural and global contexts. I argue that the introduction and development of Western modern medicine by medical missionaries since 1838 has resulted in critical transformations of not only the medical topography in the late Qing and early Republic of China, but also the practices of professional medicine in the UK and America. The progress of modern surgical medicine, the formation of professional medical organization and the development of pathology of new surgical diseases were not fully materialized before their introduction into China. The professionalization of medicine in the West took place in an intercontinental or global community of medical professionals working in the West and East Asia, especially China. My dissertation situates these intercontinental, concurrent practices and exchanges between medical professionals in China and the West in the intersection of mission history and the global professionalization of medicine in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My dissertation looks at different aspects of the professionalization of Western modern medicine in China. For instance, I examined the evolution of hospitals in China in comparison with that in the West. I found that while hospitals had a negative appeal in the West for most of the nineteenth century, the situation in China was very different. In order to make a point about how hospitals evolved differently in China, I noted that the concept of hospital did not really exist in the same way in China as it did in the West. The low mortality rates in performing surgery at mission hospitals in China enabled the medical missionaries to cultivate a sense of trust among the Chinese in going to hospitals when no one in the West would want to seek care in such a “dangerous” place. Medical missionaries in China not only had more bodies to operate on but also with more clinical evidence promoted and defended racial unity of humanity, challenging the surging tide of racial medicine in the West. Their experimental surgeries underpinned monogenesis contesting polygenesis and physicians’ preoccupation with race specific diseases and treatments. Through the lens of medicine, I argue that medical missionaries were “missionaries” of modern medicine first and propagating Christianity only comes as their second and incidental objective. Although they had an additional interest in promoting Christianity, their main goal was, first and foremost, to disseminate and develop modern professional medicine globally. The contributions of medical missionaries in other parts of the world have also been obscured in the study of European medicine. In Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness, Megan Vaughan noted that much of the research and writing on the history of medicine in European colonial territories during the nineteenth and twentieth century is “strangely silent on the activities” of medical missionaries and nurses. My dissertation is an attempt to fill this lacuna, and it could contribute to a better understanding of global construction of modern medicine.
Issue Date:2019-12-02
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Yun Young Hur
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics