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In 1973, one of the last American commissioners of the Sino-US Joint Commission on the Rural Reconstruction of China, Bruce H. Billings, wrote in his final report on the legacy of the Commission: "Because the Taiwan story is largely a success story, I believe that professionals in the development business should spend time studying the development history of the island " The success story was the "Taiwan miracle." Since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, Taiwan transformed itself from a former Japanese colony primarily exporting rice and sugar to a "developed" nation with a seven billion USD gross domestic product (GDP) in 1972. Over the course of twenty years, starting in 1950, nominal GDP rose an astonishing 2700%. A large reason for this rapid growth was the development project initiated by the United States and international organizations and carried out by the "professionals in the development business."
Most scholarship on the history of Taiwanese society considers 1945 as either a starting point or an ending point. The history of the medical profession offers us a rich array of phenomena to trace transitions in Taiwanese society across this divide, in a way that is empirically grounded and analytically subtle. Formal medical education began in colonial Taiwan in 1897. What began as an intensive program in first-aid soon expanded to a formal medical school in 1902 and eventually became a part of the Japanese imperial university system in 1928. While the Japanese medical profession is most commonly associated with its German influences, colonial medicine in Taiwan also adopted several aspects of British tropical medicine, creating a truly unique hybrid. Under this system, generations of medical professionals in Taiwan were guided by professional criteria of German medicine in general practice and British standards in tropical medicine until the 1950s.
My research interest is how public health was addressed during the Cold War period. In my present project, I argue that malaria eradication in Taiwan, one of the countries that first introduced the planned spraying of DDT for malaria control and that adopted a vision of eradication, best suits my line of inquiry as a research subject.
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