Fall 2015

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2-4 p.m.

The Global Politics of ‘Maternal and Infant Health’ (fuying weisheng) in Nationalist China
Graduate Student Presenter: Joshua Hubbard, History and Women’s Studies
Faculty Discussant: Prof. Mary Gallagher, Political Science
School of Social Work Building (SSWB) Room 1644


Founded in 1935, the Gansu Provincial Midwifery School brought a biomedical revolution in childbirth to the threshold of Central Asia. Existing scholarship has framed schools like this one as localized iterations of a nationalistic endeavor to modernize China. However, such assessments fail to account for the macropolitical context within which the Chinese public health system developed. My research shows that the promotion of scientific childbirth in China began as the brainchild of U.S. corporate philanthropists intent on using midwifery reform to extend the reach of American capitalism, in accord with rising U.S. influence globally. Explicitly pointing to midwifery as an “entering wedge” for China, representatives of the Rockefeller Foundation formed enduring and unequal partnerships with the League of Nations Health Organization and the Chinese Nationalist government, as the interests of these three parties converged on the issue of “maternal and infant health.” Foreign capital, expertise, and medicalized notions of women’s inferior reproduction, in turn, animated the expansion of the Chinese National Health Administration into distant and disputed territories like Gansu. Given that the medical facts of childbirth produced the differences between these civilizing missions and their targets, I argue that Chinese “maternal and infant health” remained integral to both the nation-building efforts of the Nationalist government and the realignment of political power in the interwar world.

Nov. 5, 1644 SSWB, 2-4 p.m. Mei-Chen Pan, Comparative Literature

Title: From Empire to Motherland: How the Taiwanese Writer Lu Heruo Traverses Changing Linguistic and Cultural Territories in the Transwar Period
Discussant: TBA

Nov. 12, 2609 SSWB, 2-4 p.m. Glenn Tiffert, LRCCS Postdoc

Title: The Chinese Judge: From Literatus to Cadre (1906-1949)
Discussant: Prof. Nico Howson, Law

December 10, 2609 SSWB, 2-4 p.m. James Meador, Anthropology

Title: TBA
Discussant: TBA