East Asia by the Book! CEAS Author Talks: Judith Farquhar - "A Way of Life: Things, Thought, and Action in Chinese Medicine" - Virtual

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 5:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Judith Farquhar


Judith Farquhar will discuss A Way of Life: Things, Thought, and Action in Chinese Medicine. She will be joined in conversation by P. Sean Brotherton.

Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies

Virtual event

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About the book: Traditional Chinese medicine is often viewed as mystical or superstitious, with outcomes requiring naïve faith. Judith Farquhar, drawing on her hard-won knowledge of social, intellectual, and clinical spheres in today’s China, here offers a concise and nuanced treatment that addresses enduring and troublesome ontological, epistemological, and ethical questions. In this work, which is based on her 2017 Terry Lectures, “Reality, Reason, and Action In and Beyond Chinese Medicine,” she considers how the modern, rationalized, and scientific field of traditional Chinese medicine constructs its very real objects (bodies, symptoms, drugs), how experts think through and sort out pathology and health (yinyang, right qi / wrong qi, stasis, flow), and how contemporary doctors act responsibly to “seek out the root” of bodily disorder. Through this refined investigation, East-West contrasts collapse, and systematic Chinese medicine, no longer a mystery or a pseudo-science, can become a philosophical ally and a rich resource for a more capacious science.

About the author: Judith Farquhar is the Max Palevsky Professor Emerita in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. She studies traditional medicine, popular culture, and everyday life in contemporary China and has published five other books, most recently Ten Thousand Things: Nurturing Life in Contemporary Beijing.

About the interlocutor: P. Sean Brotherton is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Professor Brotherton's research and teaching interests are concerned with the critical study of health, medicine, the state, subjectivity, psychoanalysis, and the body. He is the author of Revolutionary Medicine: Health and the Body in Post-Soviet Cuba.

About CEAS: The Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) and its three Committees — the Committee on Japanese Studies, the Committee on Chinese Studies, and the Committee on Korean Studies — work to enhance opportunities available to scholars both in the United States and abroad, and to foster communication and inter-disciplinary collaboration among the community of professors and students at the University of Chicago and throughout the wider East Asian Studies community.

Event Location: 
Virtual