This article examines the making of a national medicine in Vietnam. How can it be that the medical traditions in Vietnam came to be described as Vietnamese during the course of the twentieth century? In this article, I suggest that historical contingencies in Vietnam have facilitated what might be thought of as a “doctrine of combination,” somewhat in contrast to the institutionalized and contentious separation of, for example, Chinese and Korean medicine from modern medicine. In particular, I show how when it came to traditional medicine, Hồ Chí Minh and the people around him responsible for health-care-related issues were on the “offensive” from the very outset of their nation-building efforts.
Herbs, Laboratories, and Revolution: On the Making of a National Medicine in Vietnam
Ayo Wahlberg is associate professor at the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His comparative research has focused on the different ways in which herbal medicine (in Vietnam and the United Kingdom) and, more recently, reproductive medicine (in China and Denmark) have been mobilized, normalized, and routinized in the past few decades. He is coeditor of Southern Medicine for Southern People: Vietnamese Medicine in the Making (2012) and has published numerous journal articles on both herbal medicine and reproductive medicine. He is holder of a Young Elite Researcher award from the Danish Council for Independent Research.