Review ID: CBB016076123

Review of "The Other Milk: Reinventing Soy in Republican China" (2020)


Jia-Chen Fu has written a fascinating intellectual history of soy in China from the early 1920s to the late 1930s, covering most of the period of what historians call Republican China (1911–49). Drawing on extensive writings by missionaries and nutritionists, newspaper advertisements and Shanghai Municipal Archives’ documents, Fu argues that the reinvention of soy in Republican China was based on the desire of Chinese reformers to strengthen the bodies and minds of Chinese people through a soy-based modern nutritional science. Such promotional efforts did not preclude drawing on premodern notions of soy to promote the legume, even as these Chinese reformers and their international counterparts struggled at times to persuade a local audience on the universal good of soy and its derived products.

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