Organized Panel Session
Blood is a life and death matter. Because the nature of blood, its material properties, and its role in the human organism have been important topics for healers in many cultures, discourses of blood provide a particularly useful vehicle for making productive cross-cultural comparisons. This interdisciplinary panel compares and contrasts ideas from Chinese and Indian medicines over the past two millennia, with papers on blood in 10th to 18th century China, and ancient and contemporary India. Given the rich history of interaction and exchange between these medical traditions, it is not surprising that they should share the general orientation that blood is one component of a fluid human body that is influenced by the vitiation, stagnation, excess, deficiency, and movement of humors. And yet, the ways in which these orientations have expressed themselves in doctrine and practice have varied significantly by time and place. To tease out these similarities and differences, the panel papers provide comparative perspectives on (i) the classification and properties of different types of human blood, including their material manifestations and their relationship to other bodily substances, (ii) how blood-related doctrines served as a site for debate and encounters between different epistemological frameworks, (iii) how blood served as a focus of diagnostics and target of therapy (including bloodletting), and (iv) how theories of blood were related to ideas about the nature of human bodies and beings.