Asian Medical Industries: Contemporary Perspectives on Traditional Pharmaceuticals
Over recent decades, Asian medical systems have increasingly transformed into Asian medical industries. Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Unani, Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan medicine), Japanese Kampo and Korean medicines are now mass-produced commodities on the global market, and are recognized in their countries of origin as valuable economic and healthcare resources. Indeed, traditional pharmaceuticals now constitute an integral part of Asia’s knowledge products industry and its growing economic power, while their potential contribution to Global Health is starting to be recognized. There is a clear need for scholarly work in this field to go beyond Charles Leslie’s seminal, but outdated, framework of “Asian medical systems” in order to productively engage with Asian medical industries as complex, emergent and transnational phenomena.
This panel explicitly focuses on the emergent dimensions of traditional pharmaceutical industries in contemporary Asia. As a platform for a comparative approach and perspective on these industries, the panel aims to draw out and analyze shared and contrasting trends and developments in order to shed light on the phenomenon as a whole. How are people, technologies, materia medica, values, financial resources, policies and different forms of knowledge being assembled in new ways to produce traditional Asian pharmaceuticals? How are traditions reinvented, ownership renegotiated, policies remade, and ingredients reformulated as Asian medical systems are transformed into medical industries? What implications do these processes hold for public and private healthcare, governments, industry owners and workers, institutions, practitioners and patients within and across various Asian contexts?
We invite original papers that offer new perspectives on the contemporary development of Asian medical industries. Contributions may focus on one or more of the following domains: raw materials, pharmaceutical production technologies and processes, markets, policy, regulation, ownership, and property rights. While papers on any of the medical traditions mentioned above are welcome, we particularly solicit work on the relatively understudied TCM, Unani, Kampo, and Korean medicine industries.