Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

14. Juli: The medical perception of babies in late Meiji Japan

Vortrag von Dr. Aya Hômei, University of Manchester
  • Wann 14.07.2016 von 18:15 bis 20:00
  • Wo Mori-Ôgai-Gedenkstsätte, Luisenstr. 39, 10117 Berlin
  • iCal

How did obstetricians and midwives in Japan conceptualize babies in the late Meiji period? Were their ideas of babies then different from those of the earlier periods, and if so, why and how? These are the kinds of questions I will ask in the lecture. I will focus on the late Meiji period because the period was particularly important for the history of medicine in Japan related to babies and children. During the period, availability of new medical technologies such as incubators and x-­ray not only changed therapeutics in paediatrics, but also led to a new concept of babies as a biological being. In the lecture, I will examine how this  shift in the conceptualization of children’s life prevailed in obstetrics and midwifery, the medical professions that were themselves going through transformations during the period. To analyse a medical perception of babies is significant for the understanding of childhood in Meiji Japan, precisely because medical knowledge and practice directly interacted with the popular ideas about bodies, life and personhood as well as the societal values placed on them. In this way, the story I tell in the lecture is a version of social history of childhood in Meiji Japan, and the lecture aims to add a new dimension to the scholarship on the subject.


Aya Hômei , Ph.D.

is a Lecturer in Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester. She specializes in the history of medicine and is a co-­author of Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States 1850-­2000. In recent years, Aya’s research focuses on the social history of reproduction in modern Japan, and her current research, funded by the Wellcome Trust in London, concerns the Japanese effort to promote family planning in the context of international health and development aids.