Translating the Body: Medical Education in Southeast Asia

$38.00 SGD

History of Medicine in Southeast Asia

Forthcoming June 2017

Edited by Hans Pols, C. Michele Thompson & John Harley Warner

Until recently, receiving a European or North American-style medical education in Southeast Asia was a profoundly transformative experience, as western conceptions of the body differed significantly from indigenous knowledge and explanatory frameworks.  Further, European and North American conceptions of the human body had to be translated into local languages and related to vernacular views of health, disease, and healing.  This process of medical translation developed in the context of colonialism, which sought to remake colonized societies in a multitude of ways.  The contributors to this volume chart and analyze the organization of western medical education in Southeast Asia, public health education campaigns in the region, and the ways in which practitioners of what came to be conceived of as “traditional medicine” in many Southeast Asian countries organized themselves in response.

This volume uses “translating the body” as shorthand to call attention to the processes through which medical ideas, practices, and epistemologies are formulated in pedagogical contexts, processes involving both interpretation and transmission.  Translation here is a linguistic but also a cultural operation, and in approaching medical education, the book follows recent work in translation studies that underscores the translation not merely of words but of cultures.

"Translating the Body gives us a compelling and vitally important account of how the modules of international health were assembled on the ground in colonial and decolonizing Southeast Asia. These essays advance our understanding of the links between biomedicine and colonialism, nationalism, and development."
Warwick Anderson, author of Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines

Hans Pols is associate professor at the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney.

C. Michele Thompson is professor of Southeast Asian History at Southern Connecticut State University.

John Harley Warner is the Avalon Professor of the History of Medicine at Yale University, where he is Professor of History, of History of Science and Medicine, and of American Studies, and Chair of the Section of the History of Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine.


History of Medicine in Southeast Asia Series
Publication Year: 2017
368 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-981-4722-05-6, Paperback
25 b/w illustrations

NUS Press