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In the period when early European empires were first being established across the globe, China did not project its power overseas; yet its global influence was strong, and admirers of its ancient medical wisdom could be found in many places. Chinese medical texts had long been influential in East Asia, but by the late 17th century some were being translated for European audiences, too, becoming an important part of the growing interest in Chinoiserie. There was even a momentary European fashion for the practices of acupuncture and moxibustion to relieve the pains of gout. By the 18th century, descriptions of how Chinese pulse-taking could reveal underlying sympathies among organs of the body were written into one of the most famous works of the Enlightenment: the Encyclopedie. How and why were its long-distance travels generated, and by whom? In a period usually described as one of empire-building, other kinds of influence can be detected, too.
Sponsored by Portland State University History, and Friends of History
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Harold J. Cook, John F. Nickoll Professor of History
Department of History
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