The 106th Peking University Medical Humanities Forum: The problem of leprosy stigma in the late Qing Dynasty in the perspective of transnational history

   On the morning of November 28, 2022, Zhou Donghua, professor and doctoral supervisor of the History Department of Hangzhou Normal University, was invited to give a lecture entitled "The problem of leprosy stigma in the late Qing Dynasty in the perspective of transnational history". This lecture was hosted by Chen Qi, associate professor of the School of Health Humanities of Peking University, and Zhang Daqing, a Boya distinguished professor at Peking University, served as the commentator. The lecture was held online and offline simultaneously, with more than 170 teachers and students participating in the lecture and having a heated discussion.


   The lecture mainly includes five aspects: the history of immigration and disease from the perspective of transnational history, the leprosy country constructed by Westerners before and after the Opium War, the stigma construction of "leprosy Chinese" by Condley, the concept of popular stigma in the United States and Australia, and the victims of Western discourse hegemony in the era of imperialism. Starting with a brief history of leprosy prevention and control, Mr. Zhou selected rich historical materials to clearly sort out the causes and processes of the formation of the concept of leprosy stigmatization in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.


   In the section of "Immigration and disease history from the perspective of transnational history", Mr. Zhou first introduced the rise and research fields of transnational history, and explained how to use leprosy as a carrier to embed missionary history into the study of colonial history/imperial history, as well as the transnational history factors reflected in the history of tropical medicine and the epitome of the construction of "China" in tropical medicine.


   In the "Unclean South China: A Leprosy Country Constructed by Westerners Before and After the Opium War", Mr. Zhou summarized the mainstream understanding of the causes of leprosy at the ethical level in the late Qing society, summarized the treatment methods for leprosy patients at that time, introduced the evaluation of western missionaries and medical students on the wrong ideas of leprosy in China, and extended to the fixed and stigmatized identity caused by leprosy, such as the leper beggars and the Pearl River prostitutes. Finally, Mr. Zhou also analyzed the two important characteristics of "leprosy hotbed" and "main export area of Chinese coolies" in South China.


   In the section of "Chinese coolie="leprosy:" Condley's construction of the stigma of" leprosy Chinese ", Mr. Zhou focused on the reports on leprosy in the newspapers after Hong Kong opened the port, and described the compulsory measures taken by the Hong Kong colonial government against leprosy patients. Subsequently, it introduced in detail the important figure of Kang Deli and his investigation work and corresponding paper results on leprosy after he went to Hong Kong. Teacher Zhou pointed out that Condley's "epoch-making monograph" created the stigma of "leprosy Chinese".


   In the "Leprosy Chinaman" brought "Mai Pake": the concept of popular stigma in the United States and Australia ", Mr. Zhou introduced the origin of" Mai Pake ", the leprosy risks and concerns caused by Chinese coolies on the west coast of the United States, and the leprosy survey conducted by Australia in Chinese coolies. At the same time, it was pointed out that Thompson, a health official, regarded "Chinese coolie" as the "only source" of leprosy in many regions of Australia, which greatly strengthened the spread of the stigma of "leprosy Chinaman" or " Mai Pake".


   In the "Conclusion: the victim of Western discourse hegemony in the era of imperialism" section, Teacher Zhou analyzed Newman's view of treating leprosy Chinese with "civilized export", and in the end systematically summarized how the stigmatized concept of "leprosy Chinese" was constantly solidified in the discourse hegemony of Westerners in the era of imperialism, and finally became one of the root causes of the anti-China trend in the United States, Australia and other places.


   After the lecture, Mr. Zhou and the audience had an interactive discussion on transnational history and global history, leprosy stigma and follow-up research priorities. Professor Zhang Daqing, the commentator, said that Mr. Zhou had fully excavated and collected various historical materials of leprosy, and brought a wonderful lecture on leprosy stigma to teachers and students.