Rockefeller Archive Center

Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports are created by recipients of research travel stipends and by many others who have conducted research at the RAC. The reports demonstrate the breadth of the RAC's archival holdings, particularly in the study of philanthropy and its effects. Read more about the history of philanthropy at resource.rockarch.org. Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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The Pedagogy of Race: The Peking Union Medical College and Its Effects on Chinese Socio-Medical Scientific Discourse, 1912-1949

May 15, 2024

In 1906, the Peking Union Medical College was established in Republican China. Together with the Rockefeller Foundation's China Medical Board and the China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture, the Republican Chinese government promoted the expansion of all areas of research and education. Between the 1920s and 1940s, Chinese biologists, eugenicists, among others began to make serious contributions not just to Chinese science but also to global science. Led by imported eugenicists like Edmund Cowdry and Alex Hrdlicka, many PUMC projects were preoccupated with analyzing China's "racial problems," especially the pressing question whether miscegenation ought to be encouraged or discouraged. The most ambitious of these projects, the Collection of Chinese Embryos, was an undertaking dedicated to sustained analysis of Chinese biological data. Using cutting-edge research from racial embryology, PUMC anatomists measured the biodata of donated Chinese embryonic specimens and attempted to draw conclusions about the "Mongoloid" typology as well as whether Chinese-white mixes displayed "hybrid vigor" or "enfeeblement" – the scientific terms for the conditions of mixed-race offspring at the time. Although the project ultimately failed – in part due to the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, and partly due to the poor medical infrastructure across Republican China – it reflected a successful effort at tying Chinese medical development with the wider (specifically North American) scientific project of race research. Archival materials in the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), including correspondence, annual reports, personnel biographic information, and oral history materials, reveal an overall picture of the Peking Union Medical College's efforts in disseminating racial and eugenic knowledge in China in the early twentieth century. This research report, consisting of part of my PhD research on the emergence of miscegenation discourse in twentieth-century China, underscores the process through which the Peking Union Medical College transformed the intellectual landscape of Republican China.

Biology and Medical Research; Eugenics; Harold H. Loucks Papers; John Z. Bowers Papers

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