He Bian

Associate Professor of History and East Asian Studies
Office Phone
203 Dickinson Hall

He Bian (Ch. 邊和) is a historian of late imperial and a historian of science. She got her Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University in 2014. Her research interests span many topics pertaining to the question of authority and variation in China’s traditional culture, particularly in medicine and the natural sciences, between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Overall, her passion lies in writing a new kind of Chinese cultural history that foregrounds knowledge of all kinds, and is also rigorously contextualized by institutional, social, and economic conditions of the day.

Professor Bian's first book, Know Your Remedies: Pharmacy and Early Modern Culture in China, 1500-1800 came out from Princeton University Press in Spring 2020. An interview with the New Books Network can be found here.

She is at work on her second book project, The Formula of Happiness: A Social History of Medical Recipes in China’s Long Eighteenth Century. In academic year 2020-21, she is on leave researching this book project as a Henry Luce Foundation / ACLS Early Career Fellow, with additional funding from the National Endowment for Humanities. She is also writing a co-authored book on Manchu plant and animal names with Dr. Mårten Söderblom Saarela at Academia Sinica.

At Princeton, Professor Bian teaches introductory courses to Modern East Asia (HIS 208) and Early Modern China (HIS 324), an upper-level seminar on Medicine and Society in China (HIS 472), and a range of graduate seminars. She advises undergraduate and graduate students on topics related to Ming-Qing history, East Asian science, technology and medicine, and Manchu Studies. She has been recently elected President of the Manchu Studies Group.

Recent research articles:

“Of Wounded Bodies and the Old Manchu Archive: Documenting Personnel Management in the Early Manchu State.” Saksaha: A Journal of Manchu Studies 16 (2019): 1-29. (Open access at saksaha.org)  

“Re-Collecting the Glorious Age: Yang Fuji and the Disciplining of Zhaodai congshu,” Late Imperial China 40.1 (June 2019): 1-41.

“An Ever-Expanding Pharmacy: Zhao Xuemin and the Conditions for New Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century China,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 77.2 (2017): 287-319.

“Documenting Medications: Patients’ Demand, Physicians’ Virtuosity, and Genre-Mixing of Prescription-Cases (Fang’an) in Seventeenth-Century China,” Early Science & Medicine 22.1 (2017): 1-21.4.

“Too Sick to Serve: Politics of Illness in Qing Civil Bureaucracy,” Late Imperial China 33.2 (December 2012): 40-75.

View a complete CV.

Area of Interest
Cultural History
Material Culture
Medicine & Health
Social History
Urban History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
East Asian Studies
17th & 18th Centuries
19th Century