Perry World House (3803 Locust Walk)
“Global Lives of Medicines” is a collective project on the cross-cultural exchange of medicines and the ways in which global trade networks and local healing practices intertwined across Asia and with other parts of the world. We argue for a renewed attention to the roles that materiality and bodily experience play in the production and transmission of medical knowledge. Starting with key materia medica collected or produced in one part of the world, we trace their journeys through oceans and markets before and after their inclusion into formularies. As these materials moved from places and people in one geographic region to another, new names and uses were created. The significance of these medicines becomes multi-layered as they encounter new methods of preparation, enter complex regional and local markets, and become items or symbols associated with religious and political institutions, engendering new identities and values. Much of the research takes place in what is loosely called Asia, including the Indian Ocean and the Pacific region, drawing attention to pelagic-centered histories. This shifts our focus to new “nodes of convergence” and draws attention to multilingual and multicultural interactions. It will also challenge decades of emphasis on European expansion and related influences on trade networks.
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