Marta Hanson, PhD

Marta Hanson, PhDAssociate Professor

Institute for the History of Medicine
The Johns Hopkins University
1900 East Monument Street
Baltimore, MD 21205

Department phone: 410-955-3717

Research Interests
History of Chinese science and medicine; history of epidemics, disease, and public health in China; disease maps in East Asia; Chinese arts of memory; the healers body in Chinese medicine; and late imperial Chinese cultural and social history.

Recent Publications (All publications can be found at

Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese Medicine: Disease and the Geographic Imagination in Late Imperial China. Needham Research Institute Series on East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine. London: Routledge Press, 2011.

Issues of Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity as Senior Co-editor 2011-2016:

7.2 “Diversity of Medicine in China & of Chinese Medicine in the World” (Winter 2012)

8.1 “Mercury in Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine” (Spring 2013)

8.2 “Transformations of the Treatise on Cold Damage in East Asia” (Winter 2013)

9.1-2 "The Herbal Pharmaceutical Industry in India" (Double Issue 2014)

10.1-2  "Efficacy and Safety in Tibetan and Chinese Medicine: Historical and Ethnographic Perspectives" (Double Issue 2015)

11.1-2 “New Approaches to the History and Anthropology of Korean Medicine” (Double Issue 2016)


“Visualizing the Geography of the Diseases of China: Western Disease Maps from Analytical Tools to Tools of Empire, Sovereignty, and Public Health Propaganda, 1878–1929.” Science in Context 30.3 (2017): 219–80.

“Medicinal formulas and experiential knowledge in the 17th-century epistemic exchange between China and Europe.” Co-authored with Gianna Pomata. Isis: The Journal of the History of Science in Society 108.1 (March 2017): 1-25.

“The Anthropology and History of Medicine in Korea: Recent Scholarship and New Directions.”  Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 11.1-2 (2016): 1–19.

“Kuhn’s Structure in East Asia.” Historical Studies of the Natural Sciences 42.5 (2012): 514-20.

“Kuhn’s Structure in East Asia, Expanded.” East Asian Science Technology and Society: An International Journal 6.4 (2012): 561-7.

“The art of medicine: Maoist public-health campaigns, Chinese medicine, and SARS.” The Lancet, vol. 372 (Oct. 25, 2009): 1457-8.

“Hand Mnemonics in Classical Chinese Medicine: Texts, Earliest Images, and Arts of Memory.” Festschrift issue in honor of Nathan Sivin, Asia Major series 3, 21.1 (2008): 325-57.

"Jesuits and Medicine in the Kangxi Court (1662-1722)." Publication of Keynote Address given March 8, 2007, for "Medicine and Culture: Chinese-Western Medical Exchange." Symposium at the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, USF Center for the Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim Report 43 (July 2007): 1-10.

"Northern Purgatives, Southern Restoratives: Ming Medical Regionalism." Asian Medicine: Tradition & Modernity 2.2 (2006): 115-170.

"Enhancing the Practitioner's Sense of Time, Place, and Practice: The History of Chinese Medicine for Practitioners Workshop ICTAM VI, April 30, 2006." Co-authored with Andy Pham. Asian Medicine: Tradition & Modernity 2.2 (2006): 318-353.

“Manchu Medical Manuscripts and Blockprints: An Essay and Bibliographic Survey,” Saksaha: A Review of Manchu Studies 8 (2003): 1-32.

“The Golden Mirror in the Imperial Court of the Qianlong Emperor, 1739-1742.” Special issue on Imperial Patronage of Science in East Asia, Early Science and Medicine 8.2 (2003): 111-147.

Chapters in Edited Books

“‘The Mysterious Names on the Hands & Fingers’: Healing Hand Mnemonics in Medieval Chinese Buddhism.” Chapter 47 in Buddhism and Healing in East Asia, 478-485, ed. by C. Pierce Salguero.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.

“Hand Mnemonics in Medieval Chinese Buddhism: Practicing Embodiment as Historical Method.” Translated and published into Korean. Ch. 4 in Myeongsang-gwa chiyu 명상과 치유 (Meditation      and Healing), 105-132. Iksan, South Korea: The Institute of Mind Humanities, Wonkwang University, 2016.

Zengjia yishi de shijian gan, difang gan, yu shijian gan: Mianxiang yishi de zhongguo yixue shi gongzuo fang” 增加医师的时间感、地方感与实践感:面向医师的中国医学史工作坊 (Enhancing the Practitioner’s Sense of Time, Place, and Practice: The History of Chinese Medicine for Practitioners Workshop), 82-105. In Yu Xinzhong 余新忠and Du Lihong 杜丽红 eds. Yiliao, shehui yu wenhua duben 医疗,社会与文化读本 (Medicine, Society and Culture Reader). Beijing: Peking University Press, 2013. Chinese translation of article from Asian Medicine 2.2 (2006).

"Conceptual Blind Spots, Media Blindfolds: The Case of SARS and Traditional Chinese Medicine." In Angela Ki-Che Leung and Charlotte Furth, eds., Health and Hygiene in Chinese East Asia. Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 2011.

 “Bei gongfa, Nan buyang: Mingdai yixue de fengtu guan” 北攻伐, 南補養:明代醫學的風土觀  (Northern Purgatives, Southern Restoratives: Ming Medical Regionalism). Chinese version. Cong yiliao kan zhongguo shi 從醫療看中國史 (Medical Perspectives on Chinese History).  Ed. Li Jianmin, Academia Sinica, History and Philology Institute, Taiwan, 2008.

“The Significance of Manchu Medical Sources in the Qing.”  Proceedings of the First North  American Conference on Manchu Studies (Portland, OR, May 9-10, 2003). Tunguso Sibirica 15, Vol. 1: Studies in Manchu Literature and History, 131-175. Ed. by Wadley Stephen and Carsten Naeher in collaboration with Keith Dede.  Weisbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006.

“Robust northerners and delicate southerners: the nineteenth-century invention of a southern wenbing tradition,” 262-291. Innovation in Chinese Medicine, ed. by Elisabeth Hsu. Needham Research Institute Studies 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

“Attività editoriali e correnti di pensiero nel periodo Ming,” in Storia della Scienza, editor-in-chief Sandro Petruccioli, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, v. II, 2001, pp. 516-531. Edited by Karine Chemla, in collaboration with Francesca Bray, Fu Daiwie, Huang Yi-long, and Georges Métailié. Translation into Italian of original manuscript in English titled “Publishing and currents of medical thought during the Ming period.”


Senior Editorial Consultant of English Translation of Korean Medical Compendium, Treasured Mirror of Eastern Medicine (Dongui Bogam 東醫寶鑑, 1613). Nine volumes. Seoul: Ministry of Health & Welfare and the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, August 2013.

Wider audience

“Is the 2015 Nobel Prize a turning point for traditional Chinese Medicine?” The Conversation, October 5, 2015 (Translated into French and Korean).

“Views: Renewing a Feverish Debate,” Interview with Harry Lee of Caixin 財新, Beijing, on the Nobel Prize being given to Scientist Tu Youyou, November 2015.

“When East Meets West,” Interview by Catherine Gara with Professor Jun Liu for In Depth, Johns Hopkins Medicine, January 2016.

“Medical Pluralism in China,” a presentation for the Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) "Bridging Cultures Project," funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, September 2015.

"Wie man in China Hände zum Memorieren verwendet" ("How the Chinese used their hands to remember"), Der Standard (Austria)


The History of Public Health in East Asia (undergraduate lecture course)
The History of Public Health in China (Spring 2007 English bibliography)
The History of Public Health in China (Fall 2009 English and Chinese bibliography)
Medicine (and Science) in History: An Introduction to Historiography
History of Chinese Medicine
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Modern China
Comparing Science in China and the West
Graduate Reading Seminar in the History of Science and Medicine in Modern China
History of Science, Medicine and Technology: An Introduction to Historical Methods
Historiography of the History of Medicine and Science