Qi: Reconsidering its role in the academic study of Chinese medicine
Kelty, Christopher M.
Master of Arts
The marked absence of the concept of qi in the academic literature concerning Chinese medicine is highlighted by (1) delineating its importance in the contemporary North American context, and (2) exploring the possible methodological reasons for this shortcoming. The mapping of contexts within which Chinese medicine is received in the U.S. is accomplished by tracking how the concept of qi is translated, understood, and appropriated. Part I explores the North American instantiations of Chinese medicine and situates them within the biomedical context of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs) and a broader cultural discourse of East-West integrative thought. Part II explores the possible methodological reasons for the neglect of qi in academic discourse. The embodied and tacit nature of qi---as more than an intellectual concept but rather a practical ability---is explored through the concepts of tacit knowledge and orthopraxis. The anthropological literature on embodiment and phenomenology is also reviewed.