Organized Panel Session
Contemporary medical anthropologist Annemarie Mol (2002) has argued that the body and its conditions cannot be defined objectively, and that the body is seen, assessed, and understood differently by separate groups of experts even within fairly homogenised and standardised contexts of national biomedical healthcare systems. Building on this approach and adopting Mol’s concept of the “body multiple” as the framework, this panel argues that women’s bodies, their health and physical well-being in premodern East Asia were also conceptualised and approached from diverse perspectives within the same historical and geographical continuum. For example, Buddhist or Daoist practitioners, physicians, prognosticators, as well as women themselves had each developed specific tools of collecting and organising their knowledge on the inner workings of the women’s bodies, such as menstruation, conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The proposed panel seeks to elucidate these multiple and not always cohesive approaches to understanding a woman’s body from an intersection of religious and medical thought and practice. The proposed papers will focus on the role of experts as well as the impact of application of their knowledge on everyday lives of women in premodern China and Japan.