Those historians of bio-medicine and its institutions who have turned their attentions away from the West have chosen, mainly, to focus on the role of Western medicine in colonial societies. China provides the rare opportunity to investigate intercultural transfer of medical technology and social institutions in a society where the power-relations were not necessarily colonial.
This in-depth comparative study demonstrates that the hospital established in China: its planning and architecture, financing, and all aspects of day-to-day operation differed from its counterpart at home. These differences were never due to a single, or even dominant cause. They were a result of a complex process involving accommodation, appreciation, negotiation, opportunism and pragmatism. Doctors were trying to balance the pressures of the political, cultural, economic and physical realities in China whilst maintaining their own professional standards.
Rather than the micro-studies now favored by many medical historians this book tells a large story. It enriches the history of the Western hospital by describing its manifestation beyond the West. Also, being a place where Americans met ordinary Chinese in the most intimate of circumstances, the hospital provides a unique window onto the conditions of life in China at that time.
The book Accommodating the Chinese: The American Hospital in China, 1880-1920 is:
Published by Routledge, New York, London, 2005 ISBN: 0-415-97285-X (hardcover). Now available also in paperback from Routledge, Amazon or Barnes and Noble.