Applying critical research on healing and the body to Asian studies, the articles in Empires of Hygiene
challenges assumptions about the universality of medical truth. This special issue of positions
investigates how medicine, the craft of healing, also acts as a sort of hygiene—a disciplinary agent against the unruly forces of nature and culture. Assuming the complicity of scientific medical practice with forms of domination and exclusion, the contributors not only demonstrate how medicine has been used as a tool of empire but also the ways in which events and institutions have literally transformed bodily life in Asia.
Featuring a variety of topics and methods, essays in Empires of Hygiene
compare the disease that is physically suffered to that which is scientifically classified and identified as a social problem. Diseases such as leprosy and STDs, which have biomedical identities in Western settings but in Asia emerge as inseparable from certain colonial regimes, are examined. Spermatorrhea—a disease that compromises the male body’s ability to reproduce—is discussed in relation to the disarray of the Chinese Republic during the mid-twentieth century. The collection also addresses imperial themes of prewar Japan in the literary works of Mori Rintaro and Shimazaki Tison.
Contributors. Warwick Anderson, Michael Bourdaghs, Judith Farquhar, Marta Hanson, Thomas LaMarre, Philippa Levine, Hugh Shapiro, Nathan Sivin