The Basham Medal Awards 2017

The BASHAM MEDAL AWARDS 2017, August 11, 2017

The Basham medals have been awarded at ICTAM IX in Kiel to Dr. Shizu SAKAI, Emeritus Professor of Medical History at Juntendo University and to Dr. Judith Farquhar

Paul Unschuld, Angelika Messner and the Basham Medal Awardees Judith Farquhar and Shizu Sakai

Paul Unschuld, Angelika Messner, Judith Farquhar and Shizu Sakai at the Ceremony of handing over the Basham medals, August 11, 2017, Kunsthalle Kiel, Germany

Dr. Shizu Sakai was the longtime President of the Japanese Association for the History of Medicine, and holder of the sole professorial chair in Japan dedicated to medical history.

Shizu Sakai has contributed more than anyone in Japan to the development of medical history in Japan. In addition publishing prolifically on Japanese medical history, she has also been active in spreading awareness of the history of medicine among both physicians and the broader public, serving as consultant to popular Japanese television and manga series.  Her kindness and generosity are legendary: virtually every researcher interested in the culture of medicine—foreign as well as Japanese—has benefitted from her guidance and assistance.

In the context of IASTAM, Dr. Sakai's most significant contribution lies in her role as the chief convener and organizer of the Taniguchi Symposium for the History of Medicine East and West. During its run, this symposium, which began in 1976 and ran without a break for over twenty years, was the sole venue in the world for high-level yearly discussions comparing Asian and Western medicine. 

These meetings brought together historians and physicians, anthropologists, sociologists, and art historians, and included scholars from East and South Asia, North America, and Europe such as many of the key figures who pioneered the modern study of Asian medicine in the Europe and America—including Paul Unschuld, Manfred Porkert, Nathan Sivin, Arthur Kleinman, Charles Leslie, Francis Zimmerman, Jean Bossy, and Margaret Lock—participated in the Taniguchi symposia, and were joined not only by distinguished colleagues from Japan, China, Korea, and India, but also by leading experts in Western medical history. These meetings in other words, played a crucial role not only in creating and nurturing, early on, a truly international and interdisciplinary community of researchers working on Asian medicine, but also in spreading awareness of Asian medical traditions among those scholars whose focus had previously centered exclusively on Europe and America.

She played a central role in the creation, in 2001, of the Asian Society for the History of Medicine, an organization that strives to carry on the Taniguchi spirit of international and interdisciplinary exchange, and in which she still serves as President.

Dr. Judith Farquhar, (Ph.D., U Chicago 1986) Max Palevsky Professor of Anthropology Emerita and of Social Sciences in the College, Faculty Director of the University of Chicago Center in Beijing.

Judith Farquhar is well known for her prolific writings on traditional medicine, popular culture, and everyday life in contemporary China. Her areas of research include medical anthropology, the anthropology of knowledge and of embodiment, critical theory and cultural studies, and theories of reading, writing, and translation.

Her first monograph Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine (1994) offered a new approach to the study of traditional medicines, namely, one focused on the practices that are actually encountered in schools and clinics of Chinese medicine. Her radical commitment to research on how doctors relate the learning gained from professional teachers to the particular ailments of their past and current patients led her to pioneer the study of clinical practice and decision making, and to explore the subtleties of language and translation and the sociology of cultural beliefs.

She has been a longtime member of IASTAM, a regular participant at ICTAM conferences, and an active member of the ASME editorial board. She continues in her retirement to work tirelessly with her Chinese colleagues to pursue groundbreaking fieldwork on Chinese medicine.


Arthur L. Basham Medal

The Arthur L. Basham Medal was instituted by Prof. Paul U. Unschuld during his period as President of IASTAM. The award is intended to preserve the memory of Professor Arthur Llewellyn Basham (1914-1986), co-founder of IASTAM with Prof. Charles Leslie, and to honour his contribution to the field of Asian medicine. It is awarded in recognition of special contributions by IASTAM members to promoting the Association’s goals, such as outstanding studies in the social and cultural history of traditional Asian medicine.

IASTAM’s Constitution specifies that the award is to be made, when so merited, on the occasion of the ICTAM meetings. The medal has so far been awarded to the following outstanding scholars in the field of Asian Medicine:

  • ICTAM VIII (2013): Vivienne Lo
  • ICTAM VII (2009): Vincanne Adams
  • ICTAM VI (2006): Narendra Bhatt & Zheng Jinsheng
  • ICTAM V (2002): Dominik Wujastyk
  • ICTAM IV (1994): Patricia and Roger Jeffery & Shigehisa Kuriyama
  • ICTAM III (1990): Jan Meulenbeld & Yamada Keiji

The recipient is presented with a specially-designed medal, and it has also become customary for the recipient, whose name is publically announced at ICTAM, to present a Basham Award Lecture at the ICTAM meeting.

The medal normally alternates between Asian and Western scholars. We are therefore inviting nominations of suitable Asian scholars for ICTAM IX, which will take place in Kiel, Germany, from 6th to 12th August 2017. All currently-financial members of IASTAM are eligible to make nominations. A formal call for nominations will be issued early in 2017; the recipient will be decided by a vote of the IASTAM Council, and announced at the Kiel ICTAM.

Impressions of ICTAM IX

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

Trailer ICTAM IX, 2017