The Landscape Space Place Research Group

Health, Space & British Imperialism in Colonial China

Trent A35
Wednesday 30th November 2016 (15:00-16:00)

Thanks to everyone who came to our social event last month, it was great to see some new faces and hear a bit more about the different research being undertaken by members of the LSP Group.

Our next session will be taking place in two weeks time and will be led by Freddie Stephenson who has selected 3 texts for us to look at, which will be circulated to all on the mailing list in advance of the session:

  • Robert Gervase Alford, 'Tropical Sanitation, with Special Reference to Hong Kong', Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 141 (1900), pp. 262-68
  • James Henderson, 'Shanghai Hygiene', in Shanghai Hygiene or Hints for the Preservation of Health in China (Shanghai: Presbyterian Mission Press, 1868), pp. 1-14, 35-39, 61-69
  • Ruth Rogaski, 'Deficiency and Sovereignty', in Hygienic Modernity : Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China (Berkeley, US: University of California Press, 2004), pp. 165-192

Freddie has also offered the following introduction to the session:

Hi everyone

My session focuses on the relationship between health and space in Hong Kong and Shanghai from the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth century. I research the interaction between British imperialism, medical knowledge, urban space, and governmental practices in the final years of dynastic China. So I look at how and why particular spaces, materials and practices were considered healthy or dirty and dangerous. This includes the geographic conditions, the built environment, green spaces and government practices like epidemic control and waste management (not as boring as it sounds, I promise!).

I’ve included a few readings - one secondary, two primary – but please don’t feel obligated to read them all, just dip around. The secondary reading is a chapter from Ruth Rogaski’s monograph Hygienic Modernity. It focuses on Tianjin (a political centre in Northeast China, near Beijing) and the multinational provisional government implemented to keep order and control disease in the turbulent context of the Boxer Rebellion. The Alford primary source is sanitarians perspective on how to improve public health in Hong Kong, which had suffered major plague outbreaks since 1894. The other primary source contains some extracts from Henderson’s book designed to allow the European sojourner in China to navigate its many apparent health risks. Both contain some rather juicy and mad advice.

I’m looking forward to hearing some new perspectives on the issues I’m dealing with.  You don’t need any knowledge of the history of China, medicine or the British empire, but it would be interesting to hear whether you come across any ideas of health and space in your own research.

Thank you and hope to see you all there!

We look forward to seeing lots of you there on the 30th!

Centre for Regional Literature and Culture

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