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Chinese medicine/acupuncture: historical notes on the colonization of a body of knowledge

Abstract

Western colonialism influenced the encounter between traditional and modern knowledge from the nineteenth century onwards, resulting in the overlapping of Western medicine as a privileged form of knowledge. In 1958 the hybridization between Chinese and Western medicines became official under the name of traditional Chinese medicine and, through the development of biomedical research on acupuncture, it distanced itself from traditional knowledge. This essay presents historical changes experienced by Chinese medicine/acupuncture and discusses the effects of its absorption by modern medical reasoning from a postcolonial standpoint. The conclusion was that the scientism of Chinese medicine did not broaden its therapeutic potential and resulted in the loss of its epistemological authority.

traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture; biomedicine; colonialism

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