Reproducing Women: Medicine, Metaphor, and Childbirth in Late Imperial China

Volume 07, Issue 2

Chinese medical history is a booming academic field, and the subfield of women's medicine is flourishing. Within the last dozen years, excellent books have emerged one after another: in 1997 Francesca Bray produced Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China, an important treatise on the place of women in the history of Chinese technology; Charlotte Furth's pioneering A Flourishing Yin: Gender in China's Medical History, 960-1665, published two years later, discusses the period from the medieval to the early modern; in 2008 Lee Jen-der published Xingbie: shenti yue yiliao 性別,身體與醫療 (Gender, Body, and Medicine) and Nüren de Zhongguo viliao shi: Han Tang zhi jian de jiankang zhaogu yu ringbie 女人的中國醫療史:漢唐之間的健康照顧與性別 (A History of Women's Medicine in China: Gender and Tending to Health from Han to Tang), the first studies of gynecology in ancient China. Now we have Reproducing Women: Medicine, Metaphor, and Childbirth in Late Imperial China, a thorough reworking of Wu Yi-Li's dissertation on fuke, or women's medicine. Extending the coverage provided by the works just mentioned, Wu focuses on the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, ending with the fall of the Qing empire. Among the author's qualities are a fine understanding of ancient medical reasoning, a pleasant writing style, and a commitment to refining our understanding of Chinese medicine.

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