Lan A. Li

Lan Li is a historian of the body and filmmaker. Li received her PhD in History, Anthropology, and Science Technology and Society Studies from MIT in 2016. There, she explored a comparative history of body mapping among practitioners in China and Britain throughout the twentieth century. Lan is also a filmmaker, producing short films about medicine and health among immigrant communities in the United States. During her free time, Lan plays the guzheng, a 21-stringed Chinese zither. 

As a Presidential Scholar, Lan focused on developing a comparative history of numbness. She was particularly interested in how representations of peripheral sensation through hand-drawn maps cohered and conflicted with different perceptions of health and disease. Her collaborations included projects on nerve damage, aging, and pain. Lan completed the PSSN program in 2019 and is now an assistant professor in the Medical Humanities Program at Rice University. 

Project Title

Comparative Histories of Touch and Numbness

Eugenia Lean, Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures; Director, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University

Martin Picard, Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine, Columbia University

Kathryn Tabb, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University