Campus & Community

Chinese medicine topic of winning essay

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Fairbank Center recognizes Thomas Tsai ’05 for his work

The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard has named Thomas C. Tsai ’05 the winner of its 2005 Taiwan Studies Essay Prize. Tsai is a concentrator in history and science and a candidate for the certificate for health policy.

Thomas Tsai ’05 is the winner of the Fairbank Center’s 2005 Taiwan Studies Essay Prize.

Tsai’s winning essay is titled “Translating Modernity: the Legitimation of Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Quest for Taiwanese National Identity, 1895-Present.” To carry out research for the project, Tsai traveled to Taiwan, focusing his research on institutionalized medical practice at National Yang Ming University and rural health-care practices in Lukang. Set up in 1971 as a medical college closely associated with the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Yang Ming received university status in 1994, and Tsai’s thesis argues that the development of Yang Ming mirrored greater changes in Taiwan. At Yang Ming University, Tsai found many Harvard alumni on the faculty. In addition to library and archival research, he interviewed many of these specialists and other scholars at Academia Sinica in order to gather material for his study.

According to the rules of the prize, the essay should be in English and should have been published in the past three years. Portions of Tsai’s work were published in the newsletter of the Harvard Club of the Republic of China in August 2004.

The prize carries an award of $300. In making the award Wilt Idema, director of the Fairbank Center, said, “Thomas has tracked down a broad range of materials on health care in Taiwan and the interaction of imperialism and health reforms. He has also done some interesting field research. It represents serious, legitimate scholarship.”

For further information, contact the Fairbank Center at