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Asiatic Cholera and the Transformation of Drinking Habits of the Chinese Communities in Shanghai, 1920s-1930s

Xinyu HUANG (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Asiatic cholera first invaded China from India along sea routes in 1820s. With its intense infection and high mortality patterns, cholera has dramatically influenced the medical practice and everyday habits of the affected areas. However, during its epidemic season in the 19th century, it did not exert a significant influence on Chinese social institutions as those known to us in the European society. It is only in the 1920s and 1930s, another epidemic season of cholera, that public health institutions and people's perceptions developed accordingly in China. Does this difference mean that the traditional Chinese society could never spontaneously develop a similar institution like western public health? How did the introduction of western institution influence the habits and perception of Chinese people, and moreover make an impact on the transformation of society? Focusing on a case study of Shanghai from 1920s to 1930s, this article investigates the drinking habits that are closely related to the spread of cholera and studies the transformation of people's habits and perception and the transformation of modern Chinese society from a cultural and social history perspective.

Journal of History and Anthropology