Neither Donkey nor Horse
Medicine in the Struggle over China's Modernity
Far from being a remnant of China’s premodern past, Chinese medicine in the twentieth century coevolved with Western medicine and the Nationalist state, undergoing a profound transformation—institutionally, epistemologically, and materially—that resulted in the creation of a modern Chinese medicine. This new medicine was derided as “neither donkey nor horse” because it necessarily betrayed both of the parental traditions and therefore was doomed to fail. Yet this hybrid medicine survived, through self-innovation and negotiation, thus challenging the conception of modernity that rejected the possibility of productive crossbreeding between the modern and the traditional.
By exploring the production of modern Chinese medicine and China’s modernity in tandem, Lei offers both a political history of medicine and a medical history of the Chinese state.