Elisabeth Hsu


Professor of Anthropology          

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology
School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography

University of Oxford  


Fellow of Green Templeton College



Research Interests:

Research Interests are interdisciplinary, and often have a focus on issues of language and meaning. They concern Chinese medicine; styles of knowing, medical rationale, and pulse diagnosis; body, personhood, and new approaches to kinship and relatedness; touch, pain, feelings, emotions, and sensory experience.

My research, which primarily is in the fields of medical anthropology and ethnobotany, also contributes to the history and philosophy of science, technology and medicine in China, textual and fieldwork-based Chinese studies, and comparative research in ancient Greece and China.

Current Ongoing Projects:

Chinese medicine in East Africa: an intimacy among strangers. Epistemologies of Healing series, Berghahn books, in press. 

Translation of entries on qinghao 青蒿in the Chinese formula literature in medieval  China is ongoing. Collaborators are: Wu Zhongping 吴中平, Zhou Xiaofei 周晓菲, Sun Xin 孙鑫, and Peng Weihua 彭卫华.             

Genealogies of contemporary medical families (Xin’an yixue) in Huizhou, Anhui province, PRC. 

Major Completed Textual Projects: 

  1. Summaries of the Dunhuang medical manuscripts on pulse diagnosis (P2115, P3106, P3287, P3477, P3481, P3655, P4093, S79, S181, S202, S5614, S6245, S8289), together with an introduction to the corpus, have just been published in C. Despeux (ed) 2010: Medicine, religion et société dans la Chine mediévale: Etude de manuscrits chinois de Dunhuang et de Turfan. Paris: College de France, Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises, 107-184.
  2. The annotated translation of the Memoir of Chunyu Yi in the 105th chapter of the Historical Records by Sima Qian (?145- ca 86 BCE), published by in W. Nienhauser (ed) The Grand Scribe's Records. Vol. 7, and an anthropological analyses of the first ten medical case histories, published in Oriental Publications 68, Cambridge University Press, 2010. 401 pp.
  3. Translation of entries on Qing hao 青蒿 (Herba Artemisiae annuae) in the Chinese Materia Medica, between the 2nd century BCE and 1600. In E. Hsu & S. Harris (eds) 2010: Plants, Health and Healing: on the Interface of Ethnobotany and Medical Anthropology. Epistemologies of Healing 6. Oxford: Berghahn, 83-130.

Courses Taught:

  • MSc/MPhil in Medical Anthropology, comprising papers on: introduction to medical anthropology, anthropological approaches to the phenomenology of the body and gender, sensory experience in therapeutics.
  • Option course medical anthropology, offered to Arch & Anth and Human Science finalists.


For full list of publications, see hyperlink here.

Further Info:

Since October 2006, ArgO-EMR (Anthropology research group, Oxford, on Eastern medicines and religions) holds seminars in weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7 of term time on Wednesdays, 5-6.30 pm, at 58 Banbury Road, with invited speakers and, bi-annually, a workshop in Trinity Term.

See https://www.isca.ox.ac.uk/argo-emr#tab-418976

Elisabeth Hsu