Humanities Institute

Dr. Judith Farquhar Delivers 2019 Paul and Mary Ho Distinguished Visiting Lecture

Fri, March 29, 2019
Dr. Judith Farquhar Delivers 2019 Paul and Mary Ho Distinguished Visiting Lecture
Dr. Judith Farquhar pictured with Dr. Paul & Mary Ho

by Alissa Williams, HI Undergraduate Program Assistant

On February 26, 2019, Dr. Judith Farquhar visited The University of Texas at Austin to give a lecture on “Gathering Medicines: Plants and Powers in China’s Southern Mountains” as part of the Dr. Paul and Mary Ho Distinguished Lecture in China Studies. The Humanities Institute was honored to have Dr. Farquhar, the Max Palevsky Professor in the Department of Anthropology at The University of Chicago (Emeritus), as this year’s lecturer in the Ho series, which was co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies. Dr. Farquhar shared photos and findings from her ethnographic work in the rural areas of China’s south and southwest mountains, which is the topic of her forthcoming book. Her personal anecdotes conveyed the cultural persistence of Chinese herbalists in the region, including their ability to connect people to the land and to ancestral knowledge. As a central component of her findings, Dr. Farquhar quoted the proverb by Zhuangzi entitled “10,000 Things,” which contextualized the idea of connectivity between all living and nonliving things on earth, and how gaining knowledge of the earth and its botanical offerings can bring health and understanding human beings. Dr. Farquhar’s presentation emphasized and showed appreciation for the capabilities of Chinese herbal medicine practitioners to cultivate personal expertise that link a wide array of botanical resources to the medical needs of human bodies. The herbalists she studies contend that “flowers, like feelings, lead us toward goodness.”

Dr. Farquhar’s lecture was preceded by a reception where attendees enjoyed refreshments and mingled. The lecture was followed by a Q&A session with Dr. Farquhar and the audience. Affiliates of both the Humanities Institute and the Center for East Asian Studies were in attendance, in addition to various UT faculty, staff, and students and members of the greater Austin Community. The Q&A session prompted a lively discussion between Dr. Farquhar and the audience.

The Paul and Mary Ho Lecture in China Studies was endowed in 2006 by Dr. Paul Ho, Professor Emeritus in the Cockrell School of Engineering, and Mrs. Mary Ho, a Chinese language specialist and former lecturer in the Department of Asian Studies, and aims to deepen understanding and extend engagement with China in the University community and among the general public. Previous Ho lecturers include Evan Osnos, New Yorker correspondent and Author; Dr. Eugenia Lean, the Department of Chinese History, from Columbia University; Dr. Jeffrey Wasserstrom, the Department of History at The University of California at Irvine; Dr. Lisa Rofel, the Department of Anthropology at The University of California, Santa Cruz; Dr. Jing Wang, the Department of Chinese Cultural Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Andrew Nathan, the Department of Political Science at Columbia University; Dr. Erik Mueggler, the Department of Anthropology at The University of Michigan; and Dr. Gail Hershatter, the Department of History at The University of California, Santa Cruz. We were honored to have Paul and Mary Ho at the lecture and reception.

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