Prof. Elisabeth Hsu

Prof. Elisabeth Hsu (University of Oxford)

Elisabeth Hsu is Professor of Anthropology at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Green Templeton College. She convenes the medical anthropology master's courses since 2001 and founded a post-doctoral Anthropology research group at Oxford on Eastern medicines and religions (ARGO-EMR) in 2006. As member of the MPI Working Group Medical Diversity, engaged in co-organising the conference "Narratives revisited" on 6-8 December 2012, she became a senior research partner of the Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity at the Max Planck Institute Goettingen in 2012.

Elisabeth learnt standard modern Chinese at the Beijing Language Institute in 1978-79 and graduated at ETH Zurich with a dissertation in Biology, which involved one year of independent research on the biosystematics and chemotaxonomy of Betonica officinalis L. She has a master's degree in General Linguistics and a doctorate in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, and obtained a Habilitation in Sinology from the University of Heidelberg in recognition of her anthropological analyses of pulse diagnostics, as recorded in early Chinese medical case histories dating to the second century BCE.

Her research interests are within the fields of medical anthropology and ethnobotany; language and text critical studies. They concern Chinese medicine; the transmission of knowledge and practice; pulse diagnosis; body and personhood; touch, pain, feelings, emotions, and sensory experience. Ongoing field research (since 2001) has been on Chinese medicine in East Africa, while her more recent field research (autumn 2009) concerned tactility in child care and should contribute to new approaches to technologies of the self, kinship and relatedness.

Her publications include:

(2010) Elisabeth Hsu and S Harris (eds.) Plants, Health and Healing: on the Interface of Ethnobotany and Medical Anthropology, 2010, Oxford: Berghahn.

(2008) (editor and introductory article) The senses and the social. Special issue Ethnos, 73(4).

(2008) Medical pluralism. International Encyclopedia of Public Health, 4: 316-321.

(2009) Wonders of the Exotic: Chinese Formula Medicines on the East African Coast. In K. Larsen (ed.) Knowledge, Renewal and Religion: Repositioning and Changing Ideological and Material Circumstances among the Swahili on the East African Coast. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, 280-299.

(2002) Countervailing Creativity: Patient Agency in the Globalisation of Asian Medicines Special Issue, Anthropology and Medicine.

(1999) The Transmission of Chinese Medicine. Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology 7. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.