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C11 Medicine and Religion (project completed)

Medicine and Religion in Premodern East Asia

Coordination: Harald Fuess, Joachim Kurtz


Medicine and Religion aims to provide a thorough investigation of shifting paradigms and asymmetrical cultural flows within scientific and religious discourses about the human body, healing, birth and mortality. Set against the backdrop of premodern East Asian cultures, this joint project will combine a number of case studies that shed light on the interweaving of notions about the human body with, on the one hand, wider conceptual networks of medical and healing knowledge, and on the other, the religious traditions of East Asia. Competing discourses, scientific discoveries, and the development of new technologies constantly challenged established epistemological orders. This project aims to examine the rich interface between the forces that alternatively disputed and defined systems of knowledge concerning the body; it will integrate a number of smaller case studies that highlight the asymmetrical cultural flows not only between different cultures of East Asia, but also between East Asia and the rest of the world. In addition to the main themes of medicine and religion, this project will also concentrate the important issues of gender, politics, population, health and the environment. On the whole, each constituent study will offer invaluable clues as to how views of the human experience (and conceptions of its finitude) depend on transformation, interchange, or fossilization in religious and scientific discourses. Project duration 2010-12.

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