ADI Lunch Lecture - Ayo Wahlberg

Family secrets and the industrialisation of herbal medicine in Viet Nam


In 1955, the Vietnamese government launched a national programme to ‘resuscitate traditional medicine' which continues to this day. This has included botanical expeditions to collect and record medicinal plant species as identified by various village practitioners, efforts to modernise valuable traditional remedies and regulatory initiatives to integrate traditional medicine into the national health delivery system. This paper maps out the industrialisation route followed by one particular traditional herbal remedy in the 1990s as herbalists, chemists, pharmacologists and clinicians collaborated to, on the one hand, standardise its production through phytochemical analysis, and on the other, demonstrate its efficacy through clinical trials. In doing so, it is shown how tensions between superstition and reason, quackery and competence as well as the natural and the toxic disarm classic East/West and modern/traditional dichotomies.

The ADI lunch lectures take place once a month at NIAS and are open lectures on an Asia related topic. The idea is to give a taste of the wide range of Asia related research going on at the University of Copenhagen and to open up for future interdisciplinary and interregional research collaborations.

Future lectures





Søren Ivarsson, Associate Prof., SAXO Institute Policepower and the formation of the modern Thai state: The Thai Provincial Gendarmerie and its Danish Officers, 1897-1926

Jakob Roland Munch, Professor, Dept. of Economics
Trade with China - Are there reasons to be concerned?
16.Jun. Ildiko Beller-Hann, Associate Prof., Central Asia, Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies Household economy and community cohesion in rural Xinjiang

The lectures and the following discussions take place on the third Wednesday every month from 12.15-13.30 at:

NIAS - Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
Leifsgade 33, 3rd floor
2300 Copenhagen S

You are welcome to bring your own lunch - ADI will provide a small snack.