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Daoists and Doctors: The Role of Medicine in Six Dynasties Shangqing Daoism

Stanley-Baker, M; (2013) Daoists and Doctors: The Role of Medicine in Six Dynasties Shangqing Daoism. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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This dissertation examines the salvific and therapeutic practices of medieval Chinese Daoist organisations. Drawing on the most detailed ethnographic record of medical treatment in early medieval China, the Zhen’gao 真誥 [Declarations of the Perfected], this study examines the work of Yang Xi and the Xus of Jiankang, early members of the Shangqing (Highest Clarity) School. It argues that many of the family’s activities were ultimately concerned with promoting health and curing disease: from tomb-quelling, to divination, to reports on the affairs of deceased relatives. Three main practices form the foci of the analysis: an account of how acupuncture, massage and drugs were entangled with notions of salvation, and how related therapeutic concepts shaped some of the ultimate goals of Shangqing practice. The two research questions addressed are a) how did Shangqing practices function to both cure disease and to grant salvation, and what implications does this question have for modern histories that address religion and medicine as discrete enterprises? By situating the formation of the Shangqing repertoire within the broader context of the religio-medical market, this study maintains that therapeutic competition had formative effects on Chinese religions generally. The artificial and modern division of Medicine and Religion emerge as modern categories with limited value for texturing a history of the healing arts of medieval China. In place of this epistemological cast, this study suggests attention to practice repertoires and the formation of thought-styles as a methodology. Comparing ‘religious’ and ‘medical’ actors in this way allows the uneven contours of local social, geographic and epidemiological conditions to more readily be taken into account in the formation of sectarian identities.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Daoists and Doctors: The Role of Medicine in Six Dynasties Shangqing Daoism
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1396009
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