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Globalising Chinese medical understandings of menopause

Scheid, Volker (2008) Globalising Chinese medical understandings of menopause. East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal, 2 (4). pp. 485-506. ISSN 1875-2160

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12280-009-9069-6

Abstract

This essay examines the treatment of menopausal syndrome by Chinese medicine as a window on how globalisation impacts on the development of the Chinese medical tradition. The treatment strategies for menopausal syndrome were invented in 1964 and betray a strong influence of biomedical thinking. Today, they are sold both at home and abroad as products of 2,000 years of clinical experience. Close examination of textual sources reveals that such attachment is achieved by way of skillfully patching selected elements of tradition onto each other, creating a narrative that appears coherent and fits biomedical models of menopause, but is intrinsically fragile. Not only can the patchwork that sustains this narrative easily be deconstructed (as for instance in this article) but having attached itself to a distinctive interpretation of ageing—universal, biological and chauvinist—it also opens itself up to all of the criticisms that have been made of biomedical models of menopause insensitive to local variations in women’s experience. Furthermore, there is no evidence that modernising Chinese medical interpretations of menopause have increased its effectiveness in clinical practice. Whilst the essay itself does not seek to resolve these tensions, it demonstrates that the globalisation of Chinese medicine provides it not merely with opportunities but also with important new problems whose resolution may determine its ongoing development-and indeed survival-as a living tradition.

Item Type:Article
Research Community:University of Westminster > Life Sciences, School of
ID Code:6404
Deposited On:17 Apr 2009 10:18
Last Modified:30 Jun 2009 11:18

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