Translating Weisheng in Treaty-Port China


in Hygienic Modernity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780520240018
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930605 | DOI:
Translating Weisheng in Treaty-Port China

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This chapter provides a close reading of China's first translations that presented Western ways of hygiene under the rubric weisheng. “Fu Lanya” (John Fryer's Chinese moniker) had become almost synonymous with translations of “Western knowledge” in China. The books through which Fryer presented Western techniques of weisheng were fundamentally chemistry texts. Huaxue weisheng lun celebrates chemistry's ability to improve China's health by recategorizing the building blocks of nature, defining the health-giving properties of food, and eliminating the poisons of the atmosphere. The Weisheng bian series begins with advice on healthful nutrition. Juzhai weisheng lun places the ultimate responsibility for human health squarely on the shoulders of government. Zheng Guanying concludes that Western approaches to guarding life are occasionally helpful, but in no way superior to Chinese technology and knowledge.

Keywords: treaty-port China; hygiene; John Fryer; translations; Huaxue weisheng lun; Weisheng bian series; Juzhai weisheng lun; Zheng Guanying; human health

Chapter.  13129 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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