Health and Disease in Heaven’s Ford


in Hygienic Modernity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780520240018
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930605 | DOI:
Health and Disease in Heaven’s Ford

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This chapter reviews the practices of weisheng in the daily life of Tianjin before the city was open to foreign settlement. Using Tianjin's herbs, foods, and popular meditation manuals, the city's residents strengthened their bodies against the vagaries of the environment and the exigencies of Tianjin's social crises. Tianjin before the arrival of Europeans may not have been a salubrious arcadia, but one must allow that strategies for guarding life in Heaven's Ford were to a considerable degree effective in preserving health. Charles Rosenberg has suggested that explanations for illnesses revolve around two poles: configuration and contamination. Tianjin in the mid-nineteenth century was a vibrant society whose people strove to achieve health and prevent disease on their own terms. By the end of the nineteenth century, the perceived lack of government involvement in matters of disease prevention would become a powerful symbol of the deficiency of Chinese civilization.

Keywords: Heaven's Ford; weisheng; health; disease; Tianjin; herbs; foods; popular meditation; Chinese civilization

Chapter.  11705 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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