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Conference | Global Histories of Knowledge Seminar

The history of Medicine and Asia

Friday 6 October 2023
Global Histories of Knowledge 2023 - 2024
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference room (2.60)

As we embark on a new academic year, we are happy to announce that we start a new series of our Global History of Knowledge seminars. It will be good to see you all again and to continue our conversations (or to start the conversation if you’re joining us for the first time). 

The theme for the upcoming seminar is the history of Medicine and Asia, and we present two projects, one recently completed and the other just commencing. 


14:45 - 15:00 coffee/tea

15:00 - 15:45 Presentations on Project 1: Medicine and Propaganda in the Empire of Japan 1895 – 1945

15:45 - 16:30 Presentations on Project 2: Human Subject Research and Medical Ethics in Colonial Southeast Asia

16:30 - 17:30 Drinks at a nearby café.


Project 1: Maurits Meerwijk, Ethan Mark and their two trainees Thorsten Hopman and Jeroen van de Linde present the results of the research traineeship “Medicine and Propaganda in the Empire of Japan 1895 – 1945". This project looked at the development of medical policy in Japan's showcase colony of Taiwan (1895 - 1945) drawing heavily on overlooked visual sources. Two key lines of inquiry that the project developed were Japan's opium policy and the use of posters in public health education.

Project 2: Human Subject Research and Medical Ethics in Colonial Southeast Asia. This five-year project will study ethical practices in human subject research in colonial Southeast Asia (ca. 1890-1960), with the Dutch East Indies, British Malaya and the American Philippines as comparatives cases. Colonial physicians in this period pursued research on all sorts of diseases, from leprosy to beriberi, and local people took part in this research as research subjects. The project team (Fenneke Sysling, Bianca Claveria and Caroline Schep) looks at the scope and nature of these experiments, at the ethical considerations of doctors at the time, and at patients’ responses.

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