Born in a quaint town in the southern Brazilian countryside in 1992, my journey took an exciting turn in 2009 when I moved to Florianópolis to attend university. This marked a milestone as I became the first in my extended family to gain admission to a public university.


From 2009 to 2013, I read History at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), where I was trained as an academic researcher and schoolteacher. Already in my first year, I joined the Labotarório de História da Saúde e Sociedade (Centre for the History of Health and Society; LABHISS), headed by Professor Renata Palandri Sigolo. Indeed, it was Renata who sparked my passion for the cultural history of health and medicine, and eventually, for Chinese history.

At LABHISS, I contributed to various projects in the medical humanities and public history. These projects spanned diverse topics, from the history of medicinal herbs to the history of counterculture, New Age and alternative medicine in Brazil. Our current collaboration, Jardins da História (Historical Gardens), invites historians, medical students, healthcare professionals and members of the community to explore the history of medicinal herbs in East Asia. My second supervisor, Professor Li Shih-min 李世民, introduced me to the classical literature of Chinese medicine. Our afternoons spent in the university hospital, delving into the Huangdi neijing 黃帝內經, remain indelibly etched in my memory.  


Encouraged by Renata and Li, I aimed for a master’s degree in China – a dream previously unimaginable, largely due to my limited travel experience and financial situation. Upon learning about the scholarship opportunities from the Chinese Embassy in Brazil, I seized the chance and was fortunate enough to be accepted by Professor Gao Xi 高晞 (Department of History, Fudan University) as a prospective master’s student


In early 2014, I embarked on my adventure to Shanghai with just a one-way flight ticket and a few hundred dollars. This leap into the unknown was soon rewarded as I received the Chinese Government Scholarship shortly thereafter. Looking back, this bold decision in my early 20s strikes me as a remarkable act of courage – something I marvel at now, especially considering it’s a leap I might hesitate to take in my early 30s!

My initial years in China were spent mastering Mandarin and Classical Chinese at East China Normal University and Nanjing Normal University with the support of a full Chinese Government Scholarship.


My master’s studies at Fudan University began in mid-2015. Immersed in an environment where all courses were in Mandarin and all my peers were local Chinese students, I thrived on the challenge. The freedom to choose my courses led me to ambitiously enrol in five, including Japanese and Classical Chinese, a decision that was as exhilarating as it was overwhelming.


Whilst I was initially drawn to the history of medicine in ancient and medieval China, my research interests gradually shifted towards the late imperial period. I also became increasingly fascinated with less conventional aspects of the Chinese healing arts. This new direction was largely sparked by a segment in Paul U. Unschuld’s seminal work, Medicine in China: A History of Ideas, about the use of talismans and prayers in healing – a practice reminiscent of my childhood years in Brazil. Back then, my mother, a nurse, would often take me to a Catholic black woman and folk healer (‘curandeira’) to treat a persistent skin ailment.

This interest led to countless hours at the Shanghai Library, scouring through old manuscripts containing healing talismans. Surprisingly, I discovered an abundance of such manuscripts, often dismissed as mere superstition (mixin 迷信) by the librarians themselves. My pursuit extended to other libraries in Shanghai and Nanjing, marking the beginning of a critical new chapter in my research.



Just a few days after sharing my findings with Gao-laoshi, another remarkable incident occurred.


A friend of hers mentioned a man in Shanghai, a folk healer (without TCM training) and collector of old medical books and artefacts named Master Chen. On her first visit to see his collection, Master Chen proudly proclaimed, ‘Do you know, I am an authentic specialist of zhuyouke 祝由科!’ – zhuyouke being a traditional Chinese medical discipline focused on healing through talismans and prayers, precisely what I had discovered in those ancient manuscripts!

The news of Master Chen filled me with excitement. A few weeks later, Gao-laoshi introduced me to him. Initially, Master Chen was sceptical about this Brazilian enthusiast of zhuyouke, a practice often dismissed as ‘old superstition’ in his own homeland. However, this suspicion quickly turned to friendship, and I became his student.


Until my departure from China in mid-2018, I met with Master Chen numerous times. Each visit enriched my understanding and deepened my appreciation for this ancient practice. His exceptional collection of medical books and artefacts, some of which are featured on this website, offered me a rare window into the multifaceted Chinese world of the healing arts.


The vivid memory of Master Chen treating others with talismans and prayers, in a broader social environment where such practices were dismissed as ‘superstition’, sparked my curiosity about the historical legitimacy of his work. This intrigue led to my master’s dissertation on the debates about the origins and efficacy of talismanic healing in late imperial China.

In early 2018, I defended my master’s dissertation and was honoured as the first Western, non-ethnically Chinese student from Fudan to receive the 中國政府優秀來華留學生 (Outstanding International Student Award).


After Shanghai, I moved to Hong Kong to be with my long-distance partner. There, I had the privilege to work with Professor Angela Ki Che Leung, Dr Izumi Nakayama and Professor David A. Palmer at the University of Hong Kong.


However, my time in Hong Kong was brief. In mid-2019, I received the exhilarating news that the Wellcome Trust had approved my project on the history of psychical research in early 20th-century China. Within weeks, I was preparing to move to London.

From September 2019 to October 2023, I was a Wellcome-funded PhD student in the Department of History at University College London, working under the supervision of Professor Vivienne Lo and Professor Sonu Shamdasani. My PhD thesis, The Science of the Spirit: Psychical Research, Healthcare and the Revival of the Occult in a Modernising China, investigates the transnational history of psychical research in Republican China, particularly its impact on Chinese notions of healthcare and religious experience. In September 2023, I successfully passed my PhD oral examination (viva) with no corrections.


During my PhD, I served as a teaching assistant for two undergraduate courses at UCL and had the fantastic opportunity to work as an inventory and photography assistant in the Wellcome Collection at the Science Museum, London, for almost six months.


As I delved into the history of psychical research in China, I noticed multiple exchanges between early 20th-century Chinese and Japanese enthusiasts involved in animal magnetism, hypnotism and paranormal investigations. It was during this period that I met Yoshinaga Shin’ichi 吉永進一, the leading reference in studies of occultism and medicine in modern Japan.


Before his passing in 2022, Yoshinaga-sensei was instrumental in acquainting me with the history of psychical research in Japan, and he also invited me to co-found the East Asian Network for the Academic Study of Esotericism (EANASE).


In early 2022, as COVID-19 restrictions began to lift and Japan reopened its borders to international students, I had the incredible opportunity to join the Department of Global Japanese Studies at Tohoku University for one year. There, I worked alongside Professor Orion Klautau and Professor G. Clinton Godart while collecting sources and brushing up on my Japanese. My deep gratitude goes to Yoshinaga-sensei, to whom my PhD thesis is dedicated.

Right after having completed my PhD studies at UCL in October 2023, I took on the role of Research Associate at the Centre for the Social History of Health & Healthcare, University of Strathclyde, Scotland. As a member of the China-UK Medical Humanities Initiative, led by Professor Jim Mills and supported by the Wellcome Trust, I am currently teaching undergraduate and master’s courses in medical history while revising my PhD thesis for publication as a monograph.


My expertise lies in the interplay between science, medicine and religion in late imperial and modern China, roughly spanning from the 15th to the 20th centuries. More recently, I have ventured into the research fields of esotericism, mental health and the psychological disciplines in 20th-century East Asia. A growing interest of mine is uncovering the contributions of laypeople (i.e., non-experts) in generating health, psychological and scientific knowledge, both in East Asia and around the world.


Coming from the Global South myself and having been trained as a global historian in eight countries, I am deeply committed to decolonising research and pedagogy within the history of science, medicine and psychology.



2009 – 2013

BA in History

Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil


Jan 2014 – Aug 2014

Chinese Language (Intermediate)

East China Normal University 華東師範大學, China


Sep 2014 – Aug 2015

Chinese Language (Advanced)

Nanjing Normal University 南京師範大學, China


Sep 2015 – Aug 2018

MPhil in Chinese History

Fudan University 復旦大學, China


Mar 2022 – Mar 2023

Special Research Fellow

Tohoku University 東北大学, Japan


Sep 2019 – Oct 2023

PhD in History

University College London, England, UK


Jan 2024 – Present

Research Associate

University of Strathclyde, Scotland, UK

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