Modernized Healing and Unhealed Modernity: Reflections on North Korean Cinematography, Chinese Women Physicians, and Chinese Buddhist-Confucian Cultivation Practices in the 20th Century

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Modernized Healing and Unhealed Modernity: Reflections on North Korean Cinematography, Chinese Women Physicians, and Chinese Buddhist-Confucian Cultivation Practices in the 20th Century
Stream: Women’s Studies
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Authors:
Xiaoqian Song, Independent Scholar, China (organizer, presenter)
Yan Guo, National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan (presenter)
Stefan Kukowka, National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan (presenter)
Xingxing Wang, Waseda University, Japan (chair)

Abstract:

The transformation of ideas and practices of healing is viewed as a reflection of modernization in East Asia, where "healers" appeared as a modernized, westernized, and progressive image in the early 20th century. Professionalization of healers and healing techniques then grew to be a symbol of modernity in conventional narratives. However, such transformation not only mirrored and paralleled modernization, but also entangled with "the modern" with its own language, knowledge, and politics. Our researches pay particular attention to often marginalized healers in diverse East Asian contexts: from the female doctor role Moon Ye-bong 文藝峰 (1917-1999) played in the 1960s North Korean cinema, to the first generations of female doctors practicing Western medicine introduced by the Christian missions in the late 19th and early 20th century China, to masters of Pure Land Buddhism of the 20th century, Yinguang 印光 (1861-1940) and Jingkong 淨空 (1927-). Song Xiaoqian explains how Moon's doctor image represented the imagined continuity of modernization and participated in inventing the orthodoxy of a newborn history in North Korea. Guo Yan argues that the emerging female medical elite in the late 19th and early 20th century China adopted celibacy to negotiate gender norms (re)constructed by the ideology of domesticity, the rise of Chinese nationalism, the limited contraceptive technologies, and the institutional restrictions in women’s medical education. Stefan Kukowka argues that the ‘path of easy practice’–as Pure Land is often depicted–in fact, presupposes a range of conditions that the practitioner needs to meet before any cure may be achieved. All the practices discussed above reflect the complex interconnectedness between healing and modernity in the context of East Asian histories.