New Hagley History Hangout episode available: In A Medicated Empire, Dr. Timothy Yang, associate professor at the University of Georgia and co-winner of 2022’s Hagley Prize, explores the history of Japan's pharmaceutical industry in the early twentieth century through a close account of Hoshi Pharmaceuticals, one of East Asia's most influential drug companies from the late 1910s through the early 1950s. Focusing on Hoshi's connections to Japan's emerging nation-state and empire, and on the ways in which it embraced an ideology of modern medicine as a humanitarian endeavor for greater social good, Yang shows how the industry promoted a hygienic, middle-class culture that was part of Japan's national development and imperial expansion.
Yang makes clear that the company's fortunes had less to do with scientific breakthroughs and medical innovations than with Japan's web of social, political, and economic relations. He lays bare Hoshi's business strategies and its connections with politicians and bureaucrats, and he describes how public health authorities dismissed many of its products as placebos at best and poisons at worst. Hoshi, like other pharmaceutical companies of the time, depended on resources and markets opened up, often violently, through colonization. Combining global histories of business, medicine, and imperialism, A Medicated Empire shows how the development of the pharmaceutical industry simultaneously supported and subverted regimes of public health at home and abroad. From the publisher, Cornell University Press.
The audio-only version of this program is available on our podcast. Interview available at https://www.hagley.org/research/history-hangout-timothy-yang.
Recorded on Zoom and available anywhere once they are released, our History Hangouts include interviews with authors of books and other researchers who have use of our collections, and members of Hagley staff with their special knowledge of what we have in our stacks. We began the History Hangouts earlier this summer and now are releasing programs every two weeks on alternate Mondays. Our series is part of the Hagley from Home initiative by the Hagley Museum and Library. The schedule for upcoming episodes, as well as those already released, is available at https://www.hagley.org/hagley-history-hangout.
Carol Ressler Lockman