The Making of Modern Chinese Medicine, 1850-1960
316 pages, 6 x 9
10 b&w photos, 2 line art, 2 maps, 2 tables
Release Date:31 Jan 2015
Release Date:01 Apr 2014
Release Date:20 Dec 2014

The Making of Modern Chinese Medicine, 1850-1960

UBC Press

Medical care in nineteenth-century China was spectacularly pluralistic: herbalists, shamans, bone-setters, midwives, priests, and a few medical missionaries from the West all competed for patients. In the century that followed, pressure to reform traditional medicine in China came not only from this small clutch of Westerners, but from within the country itself, as governments set on modernization aligned themselves against the traditions of the past, and individuals saw in the Western system the potential for new wealth and power. Out of this struggle emerged a newly systematized Chinese medicine that had much in common with the institutionalized learning and practices of the West. Yet at the same time, Western missionaries on Chinese shores continued to modify their own practices in the traditional style, hoping to appear more approachable to Chinese clients. This book examines the dichotomy between “Western” and “Chinese” medicine, showing how it has been greatly exaggerated. As missionaries went to lengths to make their medicine more acceptable to Chinese patients, modernizers of Chinese medicine worked to become more “scientific” by eradicating superstition and creating modern institutions. Andrews challenges the supposed superiority of Western medicine in China while showing how “traditional” Chinese medicine was deliberately created in the image of a modern scientific practice.

This book will be of particular interest to students or scholars studying China, medical history, or East-West relations.


  • 2015, Short-listed - ICAS Book Prize, International Convention of Asia Scholars
The great merit of this book is that Andrews not only has extensively researched her topic, working with a broad range of primary and secondary sources, but also reads her materials critically. Eric I. Karchmer, Asian Medicine
[The Making of Modern Chinese Medicine, 1850–1960] present[s] a number of astute insights that promise to remain authoritative in the field for years to come … Andrews’s discussion of the advent of scientific acupuncture provides a sorely needed historical explanation for its contemporary survival and popularity. Howard Chiang, Journal of the History of Medicine
The Making of Modern Chinese Medicine will capture the imagination of scholars in a number of key fields. Aside from contributing to our knowledge of Chinese history, it will provide historians of science and postcolonial studies with a new framework for thinking about the introduction of Western learning and culture in former colonies. Andrews’s book will become a classic in the field, discussed and debated for years to come. Miranda Brown, author of The Politics of Mourning in Early China
This highly anticipated book will make an excellent teaching text in Chinese history and the history of science and medicine. Written in an accessible and delightfully jargon-free yet sophisticated manner, it should appeal to a broad academic readership. Ari Larissa Heinrich, author of The Afterlife of Images: Translating the Pathological Body between China and the West
Bridie Andrews is an associate professor of history at Bentley University and teaches history of medicine at the New England School of Acupuncture. She has co-edited two books, Western Medicine as Contested Knowledge (1997) and Medicine and Identity in the Colonies (2003).

1 Modernities and Medicines

2 The Spectrum of Chinese Healing Practices

3 Missionary Medicine from the West

4 The Significance of Medical Reforms in Japan

5 Public Health and State-Building

6 Medical Lives

7 New Medical Institutions

8 From New Theories to New Practices

9 Conclusions: Medicine and Modernity with David L. Schwarzkopf

Notes; Bibliography; Index

Find what you’re looking for...
My alt text
Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters
Current Catalogue
Spring 2021 catalogue cover featuring a beige background and drawings of houses in a variety of colours
Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.