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CCHH News & Events

LOOMS OF LIFE – weaving and knowledge production in ancient China

An international conference on the amazing 2nd-century BCE Laoguanshan 老官山 tomb finds, jointly convened by CCHH (UCL China Centre for Health and Humanity) and ICCHA (International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology). Time: 30 March 2017, 10–17.00. Place: IAS Common Ground, South Wing, Wilkins Building More...

Institute of Digital Health seminar

Humanoid robots as (indirect) tools for digital health in autism
Time: 20 February, 2:30–3:30pm
Place: Room G01, 66-72 Gower Street
Speaker: Alyssa Alcorn (CRAE) More...

Abortion in China

Thursday 9th Feb, 6–7pm, Room 802, Institute of EducationHealth Humanities Seminar. Speaker: Cong Yali 丛亚丽 (PKU), introduced by Vivienne Lo. More...

Dumplings 饺子 (2004)

Our New Year bonus film, by Hong Kong iconoclast director Fruit Chan 陈果, is 'a sinister story of diet, deception and death'.
Time: Wednesday 8 February, 7pm
Place: IAS Common GroundSouth Wing, Wilkins Building More...

Chinese film evening, 7/02/2017: In Love We Trust 左右 (2008)

Family drama In love we trust (aka Left Right), directed and scripted by Sixth Generation film maker Wang Xiaoshuai 王小帅, hinges on the conception of a 'saviour sibling' for a child diagnosed with leukaemia. The screening will be followed by a conversation between bioethicist Prof. Cong Yali 丛亚丽 (PKU) and philosopher and ethicist James Wilson (UCL) on the issues raised by the film. More...

The Doctor-Patient Relationship in Contemporary China

Tuesday 7 February, 2–4pm, IAS Room 19, South Wing, Wilkins Building. Speaker: Cong Yali 丛亚丽, Professor of Medical Ethics and Deputy Director of the Institute of Medical Humanities, PKU.
More...

CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR!

China Exchange 中国站 has a great programme of events to welcome in the Year of the Chicken. Highlights include a provocative 'short form debate evening' featuring CCHH's Vivienne Lo (Wed 1 Feb, 6.30pm) plus a documentary film-making challenge in partnership with London Documentary Network', plus a Silk and Bamboo 丝竹报春 concert with pipa virtuoso Chen Yu and flautist Liu Menglin... More...

Chinese film evening, 31/01/2017: For Fun 找乐 (1993)

The first film in 6th generation director Ning Ying's wryly humorous Beijing Trilogy, For Fun (Zhao le 找乐) tells the story of a group of retired Beijingers who set up a Peking Opera Group.  More...

Di Lu 蘆笛

Di Lu portrait

PhD Research – fungi, medicine, religion and philosophy

Fungi, as a group of unprepossessing organisms, have long been ignored in the field of history of medicine. However, fungi are particularly important in traditional Chinese medicine, where the roles of special kinds of fungi link medicine with aspects of ancient history, culture and religion. While I have extensive knowledge of the primary and secondary sources on this subject, before embarking on a PhD on a new area of macrofungi history I have been taking an MSc course in Science, Communication and Society in order to develop new critical approaches to this material. I am particularly interested in the transnational modern history of fungi in East Asia.

I have accumulated a mass of historical materials on fungi and have published over twenty academic papers on several specific issues concerning fungi and traditional Chinese medicine. My outputs include the collation and annotation of all the ancient Chinese monographs on fungi; preliminary studies of the fungi recorded in ancient Arabic and Tibetan medical books; a systematic study of toxic fungi and remedies for fungus poisoning in ancient China; collation of information about the distribution of edible and medicinal fungi from ancient Chinese local chronicles; case studies concerning the perceptions of fungus Zhi and the relationship between fungi and the religious cultures of ancient China, and a comprehensive review of the knowledge of macrofungi in China before the Song dynasty. One of my findings is that there is probably a relationship between the six classifications of Zhi in classical Chinese medical books and Zhi in Daoist texts; in both cases, fungi are recorded as having a psychedelic action and are used for what we might think of as religious purposes.

My research will comprehensively explore the knowledge of fungi in ancient Chinese medicine and the process of how the current knowledge of fungi in traditional Chinese medicine has been constructed on the basis of the ancient knowledge of fungi in traditional Chinese medicine. This research centres on the following questions:

1) How do the overlapping worlds of medicine, religion and philosophy contribute to the formation of knowledge about fungi?

2) How has modern knowledge of fungi been incorporated into traditional Chinese medicine in the last two centuries, and how did it enter China?

3) What are the beliefs and practices surrounding fungi in contemporary traditional Chinese medical culture?

Historical and social contexts will consistently be taken into account so as to identify deeper social and cultural reasons for changes in the development of knowledge about fungi in traditional Chinese medicine. Special attention will be paid to late imperial and modern times, when Chinese traditional knowledge was dramatically rebuilt in the course of assimilating modern science and culture from Europe and Japan. The changes in the knowledge of fungi in traditional Chinese medicine are expected to reflect this process.

This research will be conducted by two methods: textual analysis and field investigation. Textual analysis will focus on cataloguing, evaluating and utilising the useful information that I have already obtained from the primary and secondary sources. Adding to my knowledge of ancient medical books, the Prescriptions of the Hui Nationality and the Tibetan Four Medical Tantras will be carefully examined together with classical Chinese medical books. Field investigation will be conducted to investigate the current use of fungi in traditional Chinese medicine. I will explore the medical use of fungi in different regions of China. Emphasis will be placed on the fungi used by China’s ethnic minorities for medical purposes, because previous studies in this area are far from satisfactory. Interviews with experienced traditional Chinese physicians will also be carried out in order to obtain first-hand accounts of current perceptions of the medicinal properties of fungi. Generally speaking, the field investigation is expected to provide a window on how modern perceptions of the medicinal properties of fungi in traditional Chinese medicine have been formed.

In the past a dichotomy between East and West has distorted the History of Science in Asia. This thesis promises to challenge ‘essentialist’ accounts by looking at the exchange of knowledge in different ethnic groups, but also looking at the transmission of knowledge through the land routes from Central Asia and back and forward to Korea and Japan.

Page last modified on 27 jan 16 12:30 by Penelope Barrett