P 9a/b Ways of Knowing and Styles of Practice in East Asian Medicines, 1000 to the present

How do healers and experts in materia medica create knowledge about bodies, maladies, and treatments and how do they assess whether a given idea is useful and legitimate? How do they select from and apply different forms of knowledge in different contexts? This proposed double panel (7 to 8 papers) addresses these key questions by presenting the research findings of the Wellcome Trust-funded project “Beyond Tradition: Ways of Knowing and Styles of Practice in East Asian medicines, 1000 to the present” at the University of Westminster (UK).

We envision the panel as addressing the ICTAM 2017 subtheme of “scholarship and practice.” The proposed panel adapts key epistemological concepts from science studies – “ways of knowing” and “styles of practice” – to analyze how people in various historical, geographical, and cultural settings in East Asia (broadly defined) have sought to solve concrete problems by engaging with bodies, researching treatments, and debating how to consistently achieve efficacy. Important issues include genres of textual and non-textual knowledge creation, the use of pharmaceutical and manual therapies, and the divergences and convergences among therapeutic activities from different settings.

The panel intentionally takes a global, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary approach to these questions. Furthermore, by focusing on modes of knowing and practice, we seek to understand East Asian practices according to their own epistemological logic. This allows us to avoid conventional binaries that speak of Asian practices in terms of their supposed “traditional” or “modern” qualities. Thus, in addition to identifying and investigating different styles of knowing and healing, we will articulate a new, non-Eurocentric analytical framework with which to understand these styles and their historical and contemporary manifestations.

Impressions of ICTAM IX

  • Impressions of ICTAM IX, 2017, by Matthias Burmeister, ICTAM IX Filmteam