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Revealing Secrets: Talismans, Healthcare and the Market of the Occult in Early Twentieth-century China

Bernardi Junqueira, LF; (2021) Revealing Secrets: Talismans, Healthcare and the Market of the Occult in Early Twentieth-century China. Social History of Medicine 10.1093/shm/hkab035. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This article analyses the place and value of occult arts in the healthcare market of Republican China (1912–1949). Medical historiography has long neglected the resilience of such occult arts as talismans, astrology and divination in the context of China’s search for modernity. Focusing on the production, trade, and consumption of goods and services related to talismanic healing, I give voice to Chinese occultists by investigating the formation of a ‘market of the occult’ in the Republican era. I adopt a global perspective to clarify the changes that occult healing underwent following the popularisation of new printing technologies, mass media and transnational spiritualism in early twentieth-century China. Erstwhile embraced in secrecy, the occult was now being made public. Cheap manuals, wide-circulation newspapers and book catalogues reveal that in contrast to past studies that herald the disenchantment of the world as the hallmark of Chinese modernity, occult healing did not simply survive but thrived in the face of modern science and technology.

Type: Article
Title: Revealing Secrets: Talismans, Healthcare and the Market of the Occult in Early Twentieth-century China
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkab035
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkab035
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Social History of Medicine. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: modern China, Chinese medicine, spiritualism, occult; magic
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130219
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