Wayne Soon

Dec 19, 2023

Global Medicine in China

A Diasporic History

Stanford University Press 2020

Today I talked to Wayne Soon about his book Global Medicine in China: A Diasporic History (Stanford UP, 2020).

In 1938, one year into the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese military found itself in dire medical straits. Soldiers were suffering from deadly illnesses, and were unable to receive blood transfusions for their wounds. The urgent need for medical assistance prompted an unprecedented flowering of scientific knowledge in China and Taiwan throughout the twentieth century. Wayne Soon draws on archives from three continents to argue that Overseas Chinese were key to this development, utilizing their global connections and diasporic links to procure much-needed money, supplies, and medical expertise. The remarkable expansion of care and education that they spurred saved more than four million lives and trained more than fifteen thousand medical personnel. Moreover, the introduction of military medicine shifted biomedicine out of elite, urban civilian institutions and laboratories and transformed it into an adaptive field-based practice for all. Universal care, practical medical education, and mobile medicine are all lasting legacies of this effort.

Wayne Soon is an Associate Professor in the Program of the History of Medicine in the Department of Surgery and the Program of History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Soon is a historian of medicine as well as modern China and Taiwan, with an interest in how international ideas and practices of medicine, institutional building, and diaspora have shaped Chinese East Asia’s interaction with its people and the world in the twentieth century. He has published scholarly articles in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Twentieth Century China, American Journal of Chinese Studies, and East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal.

Li-Ping Chen is a teaching fellow in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include literary translingualism, diaspora, and nativism in Sinophone, inter-Asian, and transpacific contexts.

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Li-Ping Chen

Li-Ping Chen is Dornsife Teaching Fellow in General Education in Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include literary translingualism, diaspora, and nativism in Sinophone, inter-Asian, and transpacific contexts.

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