Asia Past and Present Books

PRESCRIBING COLONIZATION: The Role of Medical Practices and Policies in Japan-Ruled Taiwan, 1895–1945 (Michael Shiyung Liu)

ISBN: 978-0-924304-57-6. 296 pages. Paperback

An essential book for scholars of East Asian history, Prescribing Colonization addresses the impact of Western-influenced Japanese medicine on medical practices in Taiwan during Japanese colonial rule and examines the role colonial medicine played in Japanese empire building.Taiwan was Japan’s first overseas colony and the Japanese government was eager to transform the island into a showpiece “model colony.” Despite the colonial government’s intentions to encourage immigration, the unsanitary conditions, severe epidemics, and social unrest in Taiwan often derailed their efforts. The Japanese government believed that Taiwan required an infusion of fundamental medical knowledge from “modern” Japan. “Medicine” and “civilization” were two of the main themes used repeatedly to persuade the indigenous population to accept colonization. Written as part of a new wave of scholarship on colonial medicine, science, and technology that has emerged in the past decade, Michael Liu clearly explains the complex relationship between merciful modernization, brutal colonization, and the expansion of the global discourse on modern medicine.

“Through this vivid analysis of the institutions, people, and ideals of Japanese state medicine in the ‘model colony’ of Taiwan, Prescribing Colonization clearly reveals the commonalities and contrasts between Asian and European imperialisms. Prescribing Colonization is a vital contribution to the global history of colonial medicine, while scholars of twentieth-century East Asia will find within its pages a key to understanding the successes and failures of the Japanese empire.”

Ruth Rogaski
Director, Asian Studies Program
Vanderbilt University

“In this meticulously researched and highly nuanced work, Michael Liu demonstrates that the medical history of colonial Taiwan was a complex affair involving not only grand national interests and visions, but also the motivations and actions of individuals—both colonizers and the colonized. Prescribing Colonization traces how conflicts between the graduates of Japan’s two leading scientific institutes were played out far away from the metropole during the first half of the twentieth century. This masterful study clearly argues that while medicine was a tool for empire, it served a great many purposes and masters. This work is a welcome addition to the growing body of transnational scholarship on the histories of medicine, science, and technology in the colonial world.”

Robert John Perrins
Dean of the Faculty of Arts
Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada

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