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Article: Knowing Chinese Women: Richard Tottenham and Colonial Medicine in Interwar Hong Kong

TitleKnowing Chinese Women: Richard Tottenham and Colonial Medicine in Interwar Hong Kong
Authors
KeywordsWoman (Philosophy)
Women--Physiology
Medicine--Practice
Issue Date2013
PublisherRoyal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.royalasiaticsociety.org.hk/publications/journals.htm
Citation
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch, 2013, v. 53, p. 167-181 How to Cite?
Abstract'The typical Chinese woman is lightly built, her hips are narrow, the breasts very flat, and the pubic hair scanty, or even entirely absent. She is, therefore, by nature quite in keeping with the present day fashion of slimming.' This was how Richard Tottenham, an Irish obstetrician and the first Professor of Obstetrics (1924-35) at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), described his patients in interwar Hong Kong. To give his readers a clearer idea, he continued, 'Although the Chinese women have flat breasts, there is usually plenty of milk for the infant; which suggests that the large flabby breasts, seen typically in the women of Southern European races have little advantage from a nursing point of view.' This lengthy quote, ladled in a dose of dry wit, characterises many of Tottenham's writings in both local and international journals, such as the Irish Journal of Medical Science and the Caduceus (the journal of the HKU Medical Society). In the form of case histories, his writings portray the physique, personality, health conditions, and daily habits of Chinese women in interwar Hong Kong. They reveal to the English-speaking population the lives of Hong Kong Chinese women, generally of Cantonese origin, who were mostly confined in homes, had little contact with the outside world, and lived distinct lives from their counterparts in other Chinese provinces during the interwar years. Importantly, Tottenham's language reflects racial assumptions and stereotypes, as well as efforts to classify and codify colonial subjects.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/190578
ISSN

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorTsang, CLen_US
dc.date.accessioned2013-09-17T15:29:24Z-
dc.date.available2013-09-17T15:29:24Z-
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.identifier.citationJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch, 2013, v. 53, p. 167-181en_US
dc.identifier.issn1991-7295-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/190578-
dc.description.abstract'The typical Chinese woman is lightly built, her hips are narrow, the breasts very flat, and the pubic hair scanty, or even entirely absent. She is, therefore, by nature quite in keeping with the present day fashion of slimming.' This was how Richard Tottenham, an Irish obstetrician and the first Professor of Obstetrics (1924-35) at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), described his patients in interwar Hong Kong. To give his readers a clearer idea, he continued, 'Although the Chinese women have flat breasts, there is usually plenty of milk for the infant; which suggests that the large flabby breasts, seen typically in the women of Southern European races have little advantage from a nursing point of view.' This lengthy quote, ladled in a dose of dry wit, characterises many of Tottenham's writings in both local and international journals, such as the Irish Journal of Medical Science and the Caduceus (the journal of the HKU Medical Society). In the form of case histories, his writings portray the physique, personality, health conditions, and daily habits of Chinese women in interwar Hong Kong. They reveal to the English-speaking population the lives of Hong Kong Chinese women, generally of Cantonese origin, who were mostly confined in homes, had little contact with the outside world, and lived distinct lives from their counterparts in other Chinese provinces during the interwar years. Importantly, Tottenham's language reflects racial assumptions and stereotypes, as well as efforts to classify and codify colonial subjects.-
dc.languageengen_US
dc.publisherRoyal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.royalasiaticsociety.org.hk/publications/journals.htmen_US
dc.relation.ispartofJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branchen_US
dc.subjectWoman (Philosophy)-
dc.subjectWomen--Physiology-
dc.subjectMedicine--Practice-
dc.titleKnowing Chinese Women: Richard Tottenham and Colonial Medicine in Interwar Hong Kongen_US
dc.typeArticleen_US
dc.identifier.emailTsang, CL: cctsang1@hku.hken_US
dc.identifier.hkuros224608en_US
dc.identifier.hkuros239211-
dc.identifier.volume53-
dc.identifier.spage167-
dc.identifier.epage181-
dc.publisher.placeHong Kong-

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