This year’s conference theme is Imagery I 象xiàng

We’re all set for this year’s ARRC Symposium and our BAcC Annual Conference. Tickets are now on sale (be quick to get your early bird discount) and I wanted, therefore, to share more about this year’s theme.

It’s all about imagery..

The theme for the conference is 象xiàng, which can be translated as image, symbol or phenomenon.

The character 象 xiàng, originally the pictogram for elephant, was borrowed to mean image or symbol. By the Song dynasty it was also used to mean phenomenon. In modern Chinese, the rén (man/human) radical is often added 像.

Imagery is, of course, a key element of Chinese medicine. Point names often use images drawn from nature or the empire. The core knowledge from the Su Wen which sets out the attributes of the zangfu and the idea that disharmony within manifests on the outside has latterly been described as 藏象论 zàngxiàng lùn  (zangxiang doctrine). Philosophical texts such as the Yì Jīng use images on the basis that: just as the written word cannot fully express the spoken word, the spoken word cannot fully express the Dao, so the sages of old set up the images.

But image and symbolism are also important in a modern context. Researchers that believe the benefits of acupuncture predominantly derive from the placebo effect consider acupuncture as ‘symbolic work’. How are patients affected by the images we present or the furnishings of the clinic? We also live in a very image-intense culture ,especially since the advent of the internet and social media.  How are these changes affecting health and wellbeing?

As with last year’s theme ‘Meeting points’, the idea is to not to have a restrictive theme, but one which allows delegates and speakers to contemplate and make their own connections. We have a great line up of speakers this year – full details can be found here. We look forward to seeing you in September!

Ian Appleyard
Research & Policy Manager
April 2023