Glocalizing Medicine in the Canton/Hong Kong Region in Late Qing China (1840-1911)

Cambridge University, Rooms 8 & 9 in Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research
Thursday 14th May 2015 (16:00-18:00)
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For more information, please contact Shirley Ye (

Global China: New Approaches lecture series

Funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

Speaker: Angela Ki Che Leung (University of Hong Kong)



The Canton/ Hong Kong region was known for its cosmopolitanism with long- standing multi-cultural presence due to trans-continental trade since at least the 17thcentury. This lecture will look at the process of Glocalizing medicine by focusing on two points:

  1. To seehow Western medical concepts were ‘sold’ to the Cantonese and how they were understood. Two aspects of the process will be highlighted: the adaptation of missionary ‘hospitals’ in Canton, and the rendering of missionary medical texts into Chinese with Chinese student- translators playing a critical role.
  2. Based on two major global epidemics: bubonic plague of the 1890s and jiaoqi/beriberi from the 1880s onward, to see howthese inter-regional outbreaks were observed, researched, understood, reframed, and managed by both Western and Chinese doctors and institutions.

This study attempts to show the differing roles of Western medical missionaries, Chinese doctors, patients, students and publishers in integrating western medical practice in the region. On the other hand the stories of the plague and jiaoqi/beriberi epidemics at the turn of the century will illustrate how a rapidly deteriorating epidemiological situation in the region challenged existing Western and Chinese framing of diseases and how new strategies of observation, therapeutics, management of patients had to be developed.

Speaker Biography

Angela Ki Che Leung, Director, Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Chair Professor of History, Joseph Needham – Philip Mao Professor in Chinese History, Science and Civilization, University of Hong Kong. Author of Leprosy in China: A History (Columbia University Press, 2009).

  • Full lecture programme

All welcome!

Bursaries are available for undergraduate and postgraduate attendance of the lectures.