This research project aims to refashion the current historiography of science and medicine in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when China was ruled by Qing emperors who self-identified as Manchu. While the Chinese language was certainly an important part of the Qing language world, it was only one of many other languages of tremendous diplomatic, literary, and epistemic import. I’m trying to reframe our understanding of knowledge-making in this context that moves from a discussion of “Chinese” things to a more encompassing sense of “Qing” things in order to incorporate a sense of the multilingual and multiethnic nature of Qing society and literature into our account of the science and medicine of this period. The project hopes to accomplish this by focusing on the relationships between narrative, reason, and embodiment in Manchu literature on science and medicine (broadly conceived). We understand and rationalize our bodies through the stories that we learn to tell about them, and different narrative and textual forms offer different modes of telling a story. Extending that insight into the Qing context, Qing Bodies looks at the ways that textual forms of body-knowledge enabled particular (and sometimes new) ways of conceptualizing, translating, rationalizing, and experiencing material selves. This was happening across languages and contexts, but the project is especially concerned with the Manchu language as a medium of pan-Eurasian translation created and translated forms of embodiment.
There are currently several ongoing projects encompassed by Qing Bodies, and you can read about them here:
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