Born in Marugame, Japan, Professor Shigehisa Kuriyama studied for two years at Phillips Exeter Academy and two years in France before attending Harvard College. After obtaining his A.B., he trained as an acupuncturist for three years in Tokyo, and returned to Harvard where he received a Ph.D. in History of Science in 1986. His professional appointments (the Humanities Program at the University of New Hampshire; the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University; and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies) prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 2005 have been notable for their explicit emphasis on interdisciplinary inquiry. His publications, for their part, have been marked by a consistent effort to probe broad philosophical issues through the prism of specific topics in comparative cultural history. He has also long been interested in techniques and styles of presenting knowledge. Professor Kuriyama’s The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (1999) received the William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine, and has been translated into Greek, Chinese and Spanish.
His current projects include studies on the relationship between money and the body in Edo era Japan and the history of presence. One project is about the history of the concept and experience of the tension that has long been regarded as a virtue (proof of vitality and presence in the world) and has now become a modern pathology, a sign of anxiety and root of all kinds of diseases. The second project highlights the relationship between money and body, and investigates how the change in social relations caused by the advent of market economy in the Edo period has affected not only the theory and practice of medicine, but the intimate experience of pain and disease. In 2005-2006, Professor Kuriyama has given numerous lectures on these topics in the U.S. as well as in China, Turkey, and Israel.