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Know Your RemediesPharmacy and Culture in Early Modern China$
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He Bian

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179049

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179049.001.0001

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(p.179) Epilogue
Know Your Remedies

He Bian

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter turns to developments in the bencao tradition after the fall of Qing China and considers the broader implications of this study on modern China. It asserts that while the making of the bencao pharmacopeia had long faded from the government-sponsored cultural stage, the power of pharmaceutical objecthood endured in less centralized expressions. The popularization of pharmaceutical culture mirrored the efforts of local communities’ efforts to reclaim moral agency in the wake of the traumatic Taiping Wars (1852–1864) and the Arrow War (1856–1860). Pharmacists joined forces with resident gentry, clergy, and a growing contingent of Confucian activists to rebuild local society and reshape national politics. The struggle for authority over the nature of drugs thus continues to shed light on the complex interplay among knowledge, power, and ethics in modern China; pharmacy remains a good vantage point from which to observe the perennial search for consensus over the political administration of human nature.

Keywords:   bencao tradition, Chinese pharmacy, modern China, drugs, political administration, pharmaceutical objecthood, pharmaceutical culture, bencao pharmacopeia

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