Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

7/1/2015 - 8/31/2015

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

A History of Madness in Republican China, 1911-1937

FAIN: FT-229310-15

Emily Lauren Baum
Regents of the University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA 92617-3066)

Summer research and writing on East Asian History, and History and Philosophy of Science.

My research examines the ways in which everyday men and women came to terms with new psychiatric epistemologies and institutions that were introduced to China in the Republican period (1911-1949). While previous works on Chinese medical history have focused exclusively on the attitudes of intellectuals and reformist political elites, my research shifts the focus onto the types of people who were not immediately concerned with the project to modernize Chinese medicine and Westernize Chinese society. Instead, I explore the more subtle ways in which Chinese healers, patients, and families integrated aspects of neuropsychiatry into their preexistent medical repertoires, appropriated new terms to describe their psychosomatic suffering, and invoked psychiatric concepts to explain the changing shape of twentieth-century Chinese society.

Media Coverage

(Media Coverage)
Publication: New Books Network Podcast
Date: 12/9/2021

Associated Products

The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China (Book)
Title: The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China
Author: Emily Baum
Abstract: Throughout most of history, in China the insane were kept within the home and treated by healers who claimed no specialized knowledge of their condition. In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, psychiatric ideas and institutions began to influence longstanding beliefs about the proper treatment for the mentally ill. In The Invention of Madness, Emily Baum traces a genealogy of insanity from the turn of the century to the onset of war with Japan in 1937, revealing the complex and convoluted ways in which “madness” was transformed in the Chinese imagination into “mental illness.” ​ Focusing on typically marginalized historical actors, including municipal functionaries and the urban poor, The Invention of Madness shifts our attention from the elite desire for modern medical care to the ways in which psychiatric discourses were implemented and redeployed in the midst of everyday life. New meanings and practices of madness, Baum argues, were not just imposed on the Beijing public but continuously invented by a range of people in ways that reflected their own needs and interests. Exhaustively researched and theoretically informed, The Invention of Madness is an innovative contribution to medical history, urban studies, and the social history of twentieth-century China.
Year: 2018
Primary URL:
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780226558240
Copy sent to NEH?: No