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Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts

Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts

China, Healing, and the West to 1848

Linda L. Barnes

ISBN 9780674023970

Publication date: 04/30/2007

When did the West discover Chinese healing traditions? Most people might point to the "rediscovery" of Chinese acupuncture in the 1970s. In Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts, Linda Barnes leads us back, instead, to the thirteenth century to uncover the story of the West's earliest known encounters with Chinese understandings of illness and healing. As Westerners struggled to understand new peoples unfamiliar to them, how did they make sense of equally unfamiliar concepts and practices of healing? Barnes traces this story through the mid-nineteenth century, in both Europe and, eventually, the United States. She has unearthed numerous examples of Western missionaries, merchants, diplomats, and physicians in China, Europe, and America encountering and interpreting both Chinese people and their healing practices, and sometimes adopting their own versions of these practices.

A medical anthropologist with a degree in comparative religion, Barnes illuminates the way constructions of medicine, religion, race, and the body informed Westerners' understanding of the Chinese and their healing traditions.

Praise

  • This monumental work weaves together erudite scholarship and enticing travelogue. Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts uncovers an entirely neglected story of how the West encountered China’s religion, medicine, and healing practices. It challenges the reader to see how human beings encounter difference through the structure of their own thoughts and experiences. This informative, reflective, and path-breaking volume is indispensable for scholars in medicine, anthropology, history, religion, sinology, and ethnic studies. Also, because of Barnes’s clear and lively writing style, this book is an enjoyable adventure for any curious reader.

    —Ted Kaptchuk, Harvard Medical School, author of The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine

Author

  • Linda L. Barnes is Director of the Masters Program in Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice, Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, at Boston University School of Medicine. She holds a joint appointment as Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at BUSM and in the Division of Religious and Theological Studies at Boston University.

Book Details

  • 480 pages
  • 1-1/8 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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