Ma Jinping


University of Warwick

Research interest

Medicine and technology, Asia, Modern, mental health

Research project

My current research focuses on the encounter of ‘Western’ knowledge of psychiatry and psychology with Chinese culture and its locality in Republican Shanghai, the Chinese medical centre of its day. With an expectation of eliminating traditional backwardness and cultivating modern citizens, intellectuals began to explore ways of building a stronger nation, reflected in strong bodies and minds. Thus, knowledge and practices about psychiatry, psychology and mental hygiene were introduced, debated, tested and propagated in the literate circle as well as by the masses. A wide range of participants (like educators, psychologists, psychiatrists, publishers, or governmental officers) were involved in corresponding activities like institutionalizing patients, educational reform and the Mental Hygiene Movements. These tumultuous activities had been intertwined with cultural revolution, nationalism as well as warfare.

The care of mental health recorded the history of knowledge transmission approaches employed by intellectuals who sought out new knowledge, ’scientific’ and ‘unscientific‘, to cope with cultural conflicts and foreign critics while drawing support from the big mass. In spite of China’s disadvantageous status in a semi-colonial context and initiatives of Chinese intellectuals, knowledge transmission is not simply unilateral and not to be taken for granted. On the contrary, selectivity, conflicts, compromise and integration failure was encountered often or more. Traditional cognition and philosophy were criticized and actually targeted by those trends, but exerted underlying influences when ’Western’ knowledge was transmitted to the masses.

Next International meeting I will attend

ESHS First Young Scholars Conference: Transcultural Knowledge, Paris, 10-12th September, 2019 (The Young Scholars Network of the European Society for the History of Science)

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