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  • Workshop "Crossing Epistemological Landscapes. On the Global Circulation of Therapeutic Objects and Practices"

Workshop "Crossing Epistemological Landscapes. On the Global Circulation of Therapeutic Objects and Practices"

9 july 2015, Paris, France

Panel to be held during the 14th International Conference on the History of Science in East Asia.


Circulations lie at the core of recent attempts to explore the making of 'global' knowledge and the encounters between socially and culturally distant worlds. This notion has been instrumental in analyzing processes of hybridization beyond essentialist or structural claims of heterogeneity. A problematic issue with the circulation paradigm is that it tends to mask uneven and power-laden relationships. This problem is, however, partially addressed in postcolonial science studies, a subfield that examines the relationship between techno-scientific knowledge and postcolonial orders. In this way, issues of mobility, asymmetries and power relations are revealed. This panel proposes to go a step further. It will examine the circulation of medicine in a way that builds upon – but does not limit itself to – the concept of hybridity so dear to science studies, and that of hierarchy and power so central to postcolonial studies.

We thus aim to add complexity to the current understanding of Asian medicine by focusing on the changing epistemological landscapes that a therapeutic product or practice passes through as it circulates globally. These shifting environments are instrumental in forming hybrid objects and they also modify expressions of power and bring about new hierarchies. Our primary interest, however, lies in the fact that this reordering produces therapeutic knowledge since it (re)defines, even determines, what a therapeutic object is, how it changes attributes and relates to others. Focusing on the tangible trajectories of drugs and healing practices, the participants in this panel will examine the way epistemological frameworks and local environments of use create or transform the meaning, value, agency and power of specific therapeutic materials and practices. In order to foster comparative study, this panel will gather together historians and anthropologists working in the Chinese, Tibetan and Indian worlds.


Guy Attewell (French Institute of Pondicherry)

Olaf Czaja (University of Westminster, London)

Jean-Paul Gaudillière (Inserm-Cermes3, Paris)

Wen-Hua Kuo (National Yang-Ming University, Taipei)

Laurent Pordié (CNRS-Cermes3, Paris)

Kapil Raj (EHESS, Paris)

Mona Schrempf (University of Westminster, London)

Arielle Smith (Cermes3, Paris)

Download the Program


Jean-Paul Gaudillière (Inserm-Cermes3, Paris) and Laurent Pordié (CNRS-Cermes3, Paris)

Funding body

European Research Council


Main Venue (6, 7, 9, 10 July): EHESS, 105, Boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

Alternate venue (8 July) : BULAC Auditorium, Pôle des Langues et Civilisations, 65, rue des Grands Moulins, 75013 Paris

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