East Asian Studies Lunch Series
After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex
In this talk, Howard Chiang, Assistant Professor of History, introduces the major findings from his new monograph, After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China (2018).
For much of Chinese history, the eunuch stood out as an exceptional figure at the margins of gender categories. Amid the disintegration of the Qing Empire, men and women in China began to understand their differences in the language of modern science. In After Eunuchs, Chiang traces the genealogy of sexual knowledge from the demise of eunuchism to the emergence of transsexuality, showing the centrality of new epistemic structures to the formation of Chinese modernity. From anticastration discourses in the late Qing era to sex-reassignment surgeries in Taiwan in the 1950s and queer movements in the 1980s and 1990s, After Eunuchs explores the ways the introduction of Western biomedical sciences transformed normative meanings of gender, sexuality, and the body in China.
Howard Chiang, Assistant Professor, Department of History at UC Davis Born in Taiwan and raised in Canada, Professor Howard Chiang joined the faculty of UC Davis in 2017. His first research monograph, After Eunuchs: Science, Medicine, and the Transformation of Sex in Modern China, was published by Columbia University Press in 2018. It analyzes the history of sex change in China from the demise of castration in the late Qing era to the emergence of transsexuality in Cold War Taiwan. He is currently completing a second book under contract with Columbia University Press, tentatively titled Above the Radar: Transtopia and the Rhetoric of History. He has also begun working on a new project on the history of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and mental health in transpacific Chinese culture. Prior to coming to UC Davis, he taught at the University of Warwick in England and the University of Waterloo in Canada.
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