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This paper analyzes the construction of SNUH during the 1960s and 1970s, in conjunction with the changing medical landscape in Korea, focusing on support from the China Medical Board. American influence in medical practice and education in Korea was significant, starting in the late 1950s. Much research has focused on the early American influence on Korean medicine such as missionary activities or the Minnesota Project by the International Cooperation Administration. Recently, more attention has been given to later support for Korean medicine from Western private philanthropies, such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the China Medical Board. This support laid the material foundation and research organization for contemporary Korean medicine.
At the Rockefeller Archive Center, I conducted archival research on the architectural history of Peking Union Medical College, a major enterprise of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) and the China Medical Board (CMB), which was funded by the RF. The buildings of PUMC are still standing and are widely recognized as the precursor of attempts to adapt the best of Chinese architectural elements to modern Western science. This adaptation was first described and analyzed by Professor Jeff Cody who also visited the RAC in the early 1990s. It had been vehemently criticized by the first generation of Chinese architects in the 1930s and 1940s for overwhelming emphasis on the roof with little systematic research at the time, and was further dismissed as the bastion of American imperialism under Maoism. But undeniably, the buildings of PUMC have a distinct place in modern Chinese architectural history, and need to be well-analyzed based on exhaustive collection and careful reading of related archives.
Historians have often overlooked a central component of the story of the Green Revolution: the construction of laboratories, research stations, universities, and other facilities that made crop research possible. My recent research at the Rockefeller Archive Center started with one pivotal research center—the CIAT (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical) in southwestern Colombia—to try and understand it as an architectural project. When CIAT was finished in the early 1970s, it had already benefitted from years of Rockefeller Foundation (RF) and Ford Foundation (FF) support to that particular project, as well as decades of philanthropic funding at local universities in the nearby cites of Palmira and Cali. The Universidad del Valle (Uni Valle) in Cali had been a particular focus of U.S. philanthropic funding for university development. Among other disciplines, foundations promoted architecture there as a means for international development. From crop research labs to public health centers, Uni Valle architects were supposed to foment modernization by building the facilities that would make it possible. But architecture was more than a facilitator of development; it also became a central site of contestation. At CIAT, officials debated the proper aesthetic and spatial organization that modernizing facilities should take. At the Universidad del Valle, the very architecture students and faculty meant to serve as the champions of a particular kind of modernity, in fact, confounded an easy United States-led development project. Some faculty were radical leftists, and together with students, they led a movement to gain greater control over the university administration from both local and international administrators.
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