|Title||Elucidating the Relationship between Chinese Medicine and Systems Biology: A Multi-Sited Ethnography|
Ever since Chinese medicine encountered modern science in the late nineteenth century, the relationship between the two traditions has been extremely one-sided. At best, scientists perceived Chinese medicine as an archive of primitive knowledge from which potentially useful drugs could be extracted. Chinese medicine practitioners themselves, meanwhile, began a long struggle throughout the twentieth century to modernise their medicine with the help of Western theories and technology. At the turn of the twenty-first century, the involvement of systems biologists in Chinese medicine research created a new encounter, however, that, at least in the rhetoric of its actors, promised a very different kind of relationship: a match of two systems brought together by a shared interest in understanding life, health, illness and medicine as intrinsically complex and not amenable to the reductionist approaches of mainstream science. This research empirically investigates the nature of this relationship and how it emerged. It aims to contribute to the contemporary history of Chinese medicine by exploring the relationship between Chinese medicine and systems biology. This thesis argues that a heterogeneous network evolved, which is composed of human and nonhuman actors and their interactions created globally distributed research projects on Chinese medicine and systems biology.
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