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Kim Taylor

Dr Kim Taylor is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow working on the history of cholera in China, 1862-1932, and based at the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge. Her research interests include the history of disease, medicine and the imperial world, 19th and 20th century Chinese medicine, and the interaction between Chinese and Western medicines in China from the mid-19th century to the present day.

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Her PhD, 'Medicine of Revolution: Chinese Medicine in Early Communist China, 1945-1963', University of Cambridge, 2000 looks at the transformation of Chinese medicine from a marginal, side-lined medical practice of the early 20th century, to an essential and high-profile part of the national health-care system under the Chinese Communist Party. The political, economic and social motives which drove this promotion are analysed and the extraordinary role that Chinese medicine was meant to play in Mao Zedong's revolution for the first time fully explored.

Her current project traces the impact of epidemic cholera on local medicine and society in China over the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Seen in Western societies as an evil of the Orient, cholera came to be largely perceived in China as a scourge of the West. As such, cholera served as a focal point of medical exchange between China and the West from the time of their first substantial encounter. This study attempts to demonstrate how, as an epidemic threat of significant proportions, the experience of cholera highlighted every major medical dynamic of the period. Thus cholera is shown to be transformed from a regional disease, one which stretched the repertoire of existing therapeutic possibilities and led to the emergence of a new school of Chinese medicine during the mid-19th century, to an issue of international significance during the early 20th century, as the containment of cholera became a critical gauge of the administrative health of the struggling Chinese regime.

Key Publications

Kim Taylor, 'A new, scientific and unified medicine: Civil War in China and the New Acumoxa, 1945-49' in Elisabeth Hsu (ed.), Innovation in Chinese Medicine, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)

Kim Taylor, '"Improving" Chinese Medicine: The Role of Traditional Medicine in Newly Communist China, 1949-53' in Alan K.L. Chan, Gregory K. Clancey and Hui-Chieh Loy (eds.), Historical Perspectives on East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine, (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2002)

'Divergent Interests and Cultivated Misunderstandings: the influence of the West in shaping Chinese medicine in modern China', in Social History of Medicine (forthcoming)

'Cholera and the Composition of the Wenre Jingwei (Complementing the Classics on Warmth and Heat) (1852)' in East Asian History of Science, Technology and Medicine (forthcoming)

Books by Kim Taylor

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