In this webinar, hosted by Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore, Dr Liz P. J. Chee introduces her new book; In this book, Mao’s Bestiary: Medicinal Animals and Modern China. She traces an aspect of Chinese medicine and pharmacology that has been surprisingly neglected despite its controversial character, or maybe because of it. Although the book went to press just at the onset of COVID-19, and does not deal directly with zoonotic disease, it helps fill the gap in our knowledge of how and why “medicinal animals” have proliferated in the modern period, arguing that the early Communist period is an overlooked watershed. The main argument is that while animals (alongside plants and minerals) were accorded medicinal value from ancient times in China, their use expanded and transformed as they became a resource for state medicine in the Mao period.
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