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Between the Living and the Dead: Trauma Medicine and Forensic Medicine in the Mid-Qing

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This paper analyzes the influence of forensic medicine on therapeutic medicine through a case study of Qian Xiuchang and Hu Tingguang, two Chinese doctors who specialized in treating traumatic injuries. During the early nineteenth century, both men compiled medical treatises that sought to improve on a scholarly model of “rectifying bones” articulated in 1742 by the Imperially-Compiled Golden Mirror of the Medical Lineage. Both texts also incorporated information from forensic medicine, including official inquest diagrams and checklists promulgated by the Qing government. I show that they drew on these forensic materials to help address two interlinked medical issues: understanding the effects of injury on different parts of the body, and clarifying the location and form of the body’s bones. Overall, I suggest that the exchange of ideas between the realm of therapeutic medicine and forensic medicine was an important epistemological strategy that doctors and officials alike employed to improve their knowledge of the material body.


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