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Wayne Soon Assistant Professor of History

Wayne Soon is a historian of modern China and East Asia, with a particular interest in how international ideas and practices of medicine, institutional building, and diaspora have shaped the region’s interaction with its people and the world in the twentieth century. He received his BA from Carleton College, and his PhD in history from Princeton University. His book, Global Medicine in China: A Diasporic History (Stanford, 2020), tells the global health story of Overseas Chinese who transformed medicine in twentieth-century China and Taiwan through the practices of military medicine, blood banking, mobile medicine, and mass medical training. His published and forthcoming journal articles and book reviews are in Twentieth Century China, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, American Journal for Chinese Studies, Asian Studies Review, Asian Medicine, Social History of Medicine, and East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal.

  • BA, Carleton College; MA, PhD, Princeton University
  • At Vassar since 2016

Contact

Research and Academic Interests

  • Modern Chinese History
  • East Asian History
  • History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Departments and Programs

Courses

  • HIST/ASIA 122 Encounters in Modern East Asia
  • HIST/ASIA 202 Business and the State in East Asia
  • HIST/ASIA/STS 245 Medicine, Health, and Diseases in East Asia
  • HIST/ASIA 246 World War II in East Asia
  • HIST/ASIA 310 Mao’s China in the World: War, Science and Legitimacy
  • HIST/ASIA 387 Modern China: Wealth, Power, and Revolution

Selected Publications

Photos

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Photo: Karl Rabe / Vassar College

Wayne Soon is a historian of modern China and East Asia, with a particular interest in how international ideas and practices of medicine, institutional building, and diaspora have shaped the region’s interaction with its people and the world in the twentieth century. He received his BA from Carleton College, and his PhD in history from Princeton University. He teaches classes on the history of East Asia, history of modern China and the World, World War II in East Asia, as well as the history of medicine.

His book, Global Medicine in China: A Diasporic History (Stanford, 2020), reveals the transformation of medicine in twentieth-century China and Taiwan through the practices of military medicine, blood banking, mobile medicine, and mass medical training. Wayne Soon draws on archives from three continents to argue that the Chinese diaspora were key to this development, utilizing their global connections and diasporic links to procure much-needed money, supplies, and medical expertise. The remarkable expansion of care and education that they spurred saved more than four million lives and trained more than fifteen thousand medical personnel. Moreover, the introduction of military medicine shifted biomedicine out of elite, urban civilian institutions and laboratories and transformed it into an adaptive field-based practice for all. Universal care, practical medical education, and mobile medicine are all lasting legacies of this effort. His published and forthcoming articles are in Twentieth Century China, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, American Journal for Chinese Studies and East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal.