AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 91

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Session 91: Plague Fear in East Asia: Impacts to Politics, Society, and Culture

Organizer: Wataru Iijima, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan

Discussant: Kohei Wakimura, Osaka City University, Japan

Disease, especially epidemic disease, can be viewed as a perturbing agent, which can be used by the historian to better understand a particular time period, social structure, or culture. One can better understand different cultures by the ways they respond to, and deal with, epidemic diseases. Actually, there was several plague pandemics in East Asia at the late ninetieth century to the first half of twentieth century, bubonic plague from 1894 Hong Kong pandemic and pneumonic plague from 1910-11 Manchurian plague pandemic. The impacts of epidemic plague to East Asia in the turn of twentieth century would be revealed in three ways: the Westernization of State Medicine in Japanese imperial sphere including Taiwan, uses to which medical science put the plague, and the role of plague in the state or academic politics of the period. In China, the situation was different from those cases of Japan and Taiwan, it turns out that Chinese government also followed the road to establish public health systems under the impact of plague. The panelists will contribute to three major regions or areas: China, Japan, and Taiwan. With their presentations, the discussion of panel will focus on pretexts for political interventions, opportunities for scientific investigations, career-building opportunities, and influencing public and government policy.

The debate of epidemic plague in colonial environment: cases of 1894 Hong Kong and 1897 Taiwan
Shiyung Michael Liu, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

This article aims to reveal the technical difference and political environment in the debate of finding plague pathogen between 1894 and 1897. Hong Kong, a shining British colony and hub attracting international focus during the late 19th century, finding authentic pathogen of 1894 epidemic was an important arena to bacteriologists from various colonial powers. Taiwan in 1897 was a sole Japanese colony, received little attention from international scholarship of medicine. However, the methods of identifying plague pathogen not only re-confirmed Alexandra Yersin's discovery in HK but also laid a foundation to the application of modern bacteriology in colonial Taiwan.

Plague Epidemics and the Control of Dock Workers at Japanese Treaty Ports: 1899-1910
Tomoo Ichikawa, Independent Scholar, China

This paper attempts the problem of plague epidemics and labor market in Japan. The bubonic plague started to be prevalent around early 20 century Japan. The epidemic in 1894 Hong Kong arrived at Japanese islands via Taiwan and the South China. We can recognize the environment of the acute infectious diseases in Japan was not isolated but also open very much through the some treaty ports such as Nagasaki, Kobe and Yokohama. In reference to the occurrence of the epidemic, Dock workers had played the key role in treaty ports. Basically, they were important work force to maintain a base of the international trade. However, city authorities considered them as “the plague spreader” to a central city. Therefore, through plague epidemics, Japanese government started to strengthen the control over dock workers such as their areas of residence and employment contract. In this way, the plague epidemic brought a change to the labor condition in Japanese treaty ports.

Doutian Temple and Mulian OperaPrevalence of the Plague in Yunnan in the Qing Dynasty and Reconstruction of Social Order
Yuchang Li, Independent Scholar, China

The masses took disinfection and isolation measurements during the period of the prevalence of the Plague in Yunnan. Isolation means abandoning the sick or death body, and at the same the survivals dodged in the nearby hills or paddy fields. Thus moral concepts nearly all had gone. When the Plague was about to disappear, the gentry classes appeared. They built many Doutian Temples which was from Jiang-huai (the area between Yangtze River and Huai River) Region in memory of Zhangxun, the master of all the epidemics just for expecting the Plague appearing no longer. They also invited the troupes from Sichuan to give Mulian performances to advocate filial piety. The gentry classes tried to reconstruct the basic moral concepts rather than treatment or prevention of the Plague. As a result, the impacts of the Plague had little effect on the process of Chinese society..