front cover of African Philosophy, Culture, and Traditional Medicine
African Philosophy, Culture, and Traditional Medicine
MIS AF#53
M. Akin Makinde
Ohio University Press, 1988
For over two centuries, Western scholars have discussed African philosophy and culture, often in disparaging, condescending terms, and always from an alien European perspective. Many Africans now share this perspective, having been trained in the western, empirical tradition. Makinde argues that, particularly in view of the costs and failings of western style culture, Africans must now mold their own modern culture by blending useful western practices with valuable indigenous African elements. Specifically, Makinde demonstrates the potential for the development of African philosophy and even African traditional medicine. Following the lead of a number of countries with government policies of incorporating indigenous medicine with orthodox Western medicine, Makinde argues that traditional African practices should be taken seriously, both medically and scientifically. Further, he charges African scholars with the responsibility of investigating these and other elements of traditional African culture in order to dispel their mystery and secrecy through modern research and useful publications.
[more]

front cover of The African Transformation of Western Medicine and the Dynamics of Global Cultural Exchange
The African Transformation of Western Medicine and the Dynamics of Global Cultural Exchange
David Baronov
Temple University Press, 2010
Beginning with the colonial era, Western biomedicine has radically transformed African medical beliefs and practices. Conversely, in using Western biomedicine, Africans have also transformed it. The African Transformation of Western Medicine and the Dynamics of Global Cultural Exchange contends that contemporary African medical systems—no less “biomedical” than Western medicine—in fact greatly enrich and expand the notion of biomedicine, reframing it as a global cultural form deployed across global networks of cultural exchange.

The book analyzes biomedicine as a complex and dynamic sociocultural form, the conceptual premises of which make it necessarily subject to ongoing change and development as it travels the globe. David Baronov captures the complexities of this cultural exchange by using world-systems analysis in a way that places global cultural processes on equal footing with political and economic processes. In doing so, he both allows the story of Africa’s transformation of “Western” biomedicine to be told and offers new insights into the capitalist world system.
[more]

front cover of At Ansha's
At Ansha's
Life in the Spirit Mosque of a Healer in Mozambique
Daria Trentini
Rutgers University Press, 2021
At Ansha's takes the reader inside the spirit mosque of a female healer in Nampula, northern Mozambique. It is here that Ansha, a Makonde spirit healer, heals the resisting ailments of her patients, discloses pieces of her story of affliction and healing, and engages the world outside her mosque. We come to know Ansha’s experiences as revolutionary and migrant, her religious trajectories, family, the healers who cured her, the spirits who possessed her, and her declining health. We follow Ansha’s shifts in her life and work in the mosque as these intersect with the visible and invisible borders of Mozambique and of its fraught history. Confronting events in her life and in the mosque between 2009 and 2016, Ansha invites us to make meaning with her, as we sit in her mosque, and engage with her family, spirits, friends, patients, and world.
[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
Boiling Energy
Community Healing among the Kalahari Kung
Richard Katz
Harvard University Press, 1982
This account of the ancient healing dances practiced by the Kung people of southern Africa’s Kalahari Desert includes vivid eyewitness descriptions of night-long healing dances and interviews with Kung healers.
[more]

front cover of Border Healing Woman
Border Healing Woman
The Story of Jewel Babb as told to Pat LittleDog (second edition)
By Jewel Babb as told to Pat Littledog
University of Texas Press, 1994

The story of Jewel Babb, from her early years as a tenderfoot ranch wife to her elder years as a desert healing woman, has enthralled readers since Border Healing Woman was first published in 1981. In this second edition, Pat LittleDog adds an epilogue to conclude the story, describing the mixed blessings that publicity brought to Jewel Babb before her death in 1991.

[more]

front cover of Compound Remedies
Compound Remedies
Galenic Pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain
Paula S. De Vos
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2023
Winner, 2022 Edward Kremers Award

Compound Remedies examines the equipment, books, and remedies of colonial Mexico City’s Herrera pharmacy—natural substances with known healing powers that formed part of the basis for modern-day healing traditions and home remedies in Mexico. Paula S. De Vos traces the evolution of the Galenic pharmaceutical tradition from its foundations in ancient Greece to the physician-philosophers of medieval Islamic empires and the Latin West and eventually through the Spanish Empire to Mexico, offering a global history of the transmission of these materials, knowledges, and techniques. Her detailed inventory of the Herrera pharmacy reveals the many layers of this tradition and how it developed over centuries, providing new perspectives and insight into the development of Western science and medicine: its varied origins, its engagement with and inclusion of multiple knowledge traditions, the ways in which these traditions moved and circulated in relation to imperialism, and its long-term continuities and dramatic transformations. De Vos ultimately reveals the great significance of pharmacy, and of artisanal pursuits more generally, as a cornerstone of ancient, medieval, and early modern epistemologies and philosophies of nature.
 
[more]

front cover of Drum and stethoscope
Drum and stethoscope
integrating ethnomedicine and biomedicine in Bolivia
Joseph William Bastien
University of Utah Press, 1992

front cover of Edible Medicines
Edible Medicines
An Ethnopharmacology of Food
Nina L. Etkin
University of Arizona Press, 2006
Chile pepper is used today as a flavoring, but Aztecs also applied it for toothache, sore throat, and asthma. The tonic properties of coffee have been recorded in Islamic pharmacopoeia since the eleventh century, and many peoples have used it to protect against Parkinson’s disease. Although much has been documented regarding the nutritional values of foods, until recently little attention has been paid to the pharmacologic potential of diet.

This book investigates the health implications of foods from the cuisines of peoples around the world to describe the place of food in health maintenance. In this wide-ranging book, Nina Etkin reveals the pharmacologic potential of foods in the specific cultural contexts in which they are used. Incorporating co-evolution with a biocultural perspective, she addresses some of the physiological effects of foods across cultures and through history while taking into account both the complex dynamics of food choice and the blurred distinctions between food and medicine.

Showing that food choice is more closely linked to health than is commonly thought, she helps us to understand the health implications of people’s food-centered actions in the context of real-life circumstances. Drawing on an extensive literature that transects food and culture, the history of medicine, ethnopharmacology, food history, nutrition, and human evolution, Edible Medicines demonstrates the intricate relationship between culture and nature. It will appeal to a wide range of scholars and professionals, from anthropologists to nutritionists, as well as general readers seeking a greater understanding of the medicinal aspects of food.
[more]

front cover of El Monte
El Monte
Notes on the Religions, Magic, and Folklore of the Black and Creole People of Cuba
Lydia Cabrera
Duke University Press, 2023
First published in Cuba in 1954 and appearing here in English for the first time, Lydia Cabrera’s El Monte is a foundational and iconic study of Afro-Cuban religious and cultural traditions. Drawing on conversations with elderly Afro-Cuban priests who were one or two generations away from the transatlantic slave trade, Cabrera combines ethnography, history, folklore, literature, and botany to provide a panoramic account of the multifaceted influence of Afro-Atlantic cultures in Cuba. Cabrera details the natural and spiritual landscape of the Cuban monte (forest, wilderness) and discusses hundreds of herbs and the constellations of deities, sacred rites, and knowledge that envelop them. The result is a complex spiritual and medicinal architecture of Afro-Cuban cultures. This new edition of what is often referred to as “the Santería bible” includes a new foreword, introduction, and translator notes. As a seminal work in the study of the African diaspora that has profoundly impacted numerous fields, Cabrera’s magnum opus is essential for scholars, activists, and religious devotees of Afro-Cuban traditions alike.
[more]

front cover of The Ethnobotany of Eden
The Ethnobotany of Eden
Rethinking the Jungle Medicine Narrative
Robert A. Voeks
University of Chicago Press, 2018
In the mysterious and pristine forests of the tropics, a wealth of ethnobotanical panaceas and shamanic knowledge promises cures for everything from cancer and AIDS to the common cold. To access such miracles, we need only to discover and protect these medicinal treasures before they succumb to the corrosive forces of the modern world. A compelling biocultural story, certainly, and a popular perspective on the lands and peoples of equatorial latitudes—but true? Only in part. In The Ethnobotany of Eden, geographer Robert A. Voeks unravels the long lianas of history and occasional strands of truth that gave rise to this irresistible jungle medicine narrative.

By exploring the interconnected worlds of anthropology, botany, and geography, Voeks shows that well-intentioned scientists and environmentalists originally crafted the jungle narrative with the primary goal of saving the world’s tropical rainforests from destruction. It was a strategy deployed to address a pressing environmental problem, one that appeared at a propitious point in history just as the Western world was taking a more globalized view of environmental issues. And yet, although supported by science and its practitioners, the story was also underpinned by a persuasive mix of myth, sentimentality, and nostalgia for a long-lost tropical Eden. Resurrecting the fascinating history of plant prospecting in the tropics, from the colonial era to the present day, The Ethnobotany of Eden rewrites with modern science the degradation narrative we’ve built up around tropical forests, revealing the entangled origins of our fables of forest cures.
[more]

front cover of Fluent Bodies
Fluent Bodies
Ayurvedic Remedies for Postcolonial Imbalance
Jean M. Langford
Duke University Press, 2002
Fluent Bodies examines the modernization of the indigenous healing practice, Ayurveda, in India. Combining contemporary ethnography with a study of key historical moments as glimpsed through early-twentieth-century texts, Jean M. Langford argues that as Ayurveda evolved from an eclectic set of healing practices into a sign of Indian national culture, it was reimagined as a healing force not simply for bodily disorders but for colonial and postcolonial ills.
Interweaving theory with narrative, Langford explores the strategies of contemporary practitioners who reconfigure Ayurvedic knowledge through institutions and technologies such as hospitals, anatomy labs, clinical trials, and sonograms. She shows how practitioners appropriate, transform, or circumvent the knowledge practices implicit in these institutions and technologies, destabilizing such categories as medicine, culture, science, symptom, and self, even as they deploy them in clinical practice. Ultimately, this study points to the future of Ayurveda in a transnational era as a remedy not only for the wounds of colonialism but also for an imagined cultural emptiness at the heart of global modernity.
[more]

front cover of From Popular Medicine to Medical Populism
From Popular Medicine to Medical Populism
Doctors, Healers, and Public Power in Costa Rica, 1800–1940
Steven Palmer
Duke University Press, 2003
From Popular Medicine to Medical Populism presents the history of medical practice in Costa Rica from the late colonial era—when none of the fifty thousand inhabitants had access to a titled physician, pharmacist, or midwife—to the 1940s, when the figure of the qualified medical doctor was part of everyday life for many of Costa Rica’s nearly one million citizens. It is the first book to chronicle the history of all healers, both professional and popular, in a Latin American country during the national period.
Steven Palmer breaks with the view of popular and professional medicine as polar opposites—where popular medicine is seen as representative of the authentic local community and as synonymous with oral tradition and religious and magical beliefs and professional medicine as advancing neocolonial interests through the work of secular, trained academicians. Arguing that there was significant and formative overlap between these two forms of medicine, Palmer shows that the relationship between practitioners of each was marked by coexistence, complementarity, and dialogue as often as it was by rivalry. Palmer explains that while the professionalization of medical practice was intricately connected to the nation-building process, the Costa Rican state never consistently displayed an interest in suppressing the practice of popular medicine. In fact, it persistently found both tacit and explicit ways to allow untitled healers to practice. Using empirical and archival research to bring people (such as the famous healer or curandero Professor Carlos Carbell), events, and institutions (including the Rockefeller Foundation) to life, From Popular Medicine to Medical Populism demonstrates that it was through everyday acts of negotiation among agents of the state, medical professionals, and popular practitioners that the contours of Costa Rica’s modern, heterogeneous health care system were established.
[more]

front cover of The Gray Zones of Medicine
The Gray Zones of Medicine
Healers and History in Latin America
Diego Armus and Pablo F. Gómez
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021

Winner, 2022 Outstanding Academic Title, CHOICE Awards

Health practitioners working in gray zones, or between official and unofficial medicines, played a fundamental role in shaping Latin America from the colonial period onward. The Gray Zones of Medicine offers a human, relatable, complex examination of the history of health and healing in Latin America across five centuries. Contributors uncover how biographical narratives of individual actors—outside those of hegemonic biomedical knowledge, careers of successful doctors, public health initiatives, and research and medical institutions—can provide a unique window into larger social, cultural, political, and economic historical changes and continuities in the region. They reveal the power of such stories to illuminate intricacies and resilient features of the history of health and disease, and they demonstrate the importance of escaping analytical constraints posed by binary frameworks of legality/illegality, learned/popular, and orthodoxy/heterodoxy when writing about the past. Through an accessible and story-like format, this book unlocks the potential of historical narratives of healings to understand and give nuance to processes too frequently articulated through intellectual medical histories or the lenses of empires, nation-states, and their institutions.

[more]

front cover of Healing at the Periphery
Healing at the Periphery
Ethnographies of Tibetan Medicine in India
Laurent Pordié and Stephan Kloos, editors
Duke University Press, 2022
India has long occupied an important place in Tibetan medicine's history and development. However, Indian Himalayan practitioners of Tibetan medicine, or amchi, have largely remained overlooked at the Tibetan medical periphery, despite playing a central social and medical role in their communities. Power and legitimacy, religion and economic development, biomedical encounters and Indian geopolitics all intersect in the work and identities of contemporary Himalayan amchi. This volume examines the crucial moment of crisis and transformation that occurred in the early 2000s to offer insights into the beginnings of Tibetan medicine's professionalization, industrialization, and official recognition in India and elsewhere. Based on fine-grained ethnographic studies in Ladakh, Zangskar, Sikkim, and the Darjeeling Hills, Healing at the Periphery asks how the dynamics of capitalism, social change, and the encounter with biomedicine affect small communities on the fringes of modern India, and, conversely, what local transformations of Tibetan medicine tell us about contemporary society and health care in the Himalayas and the Tibetan world.

Contributors. Florian Besch, Calum Blaikie, Sienna R. Craig, Barbara Gerke, Isabelle Guérin, Kim Gutschow, Pascale Hancart Petitet, Stephan Kloos, Fernanda Pirie, Laurent Pordié
[more]

front cover of Healing Logics
Healing Logics
Culture and Medicine in Modern Health Belief Systems
Erika Brady
Utah State University Press, 2001

Scholars in folklore and anthropology are more directly involved in various aspects of medicine—such as medical education, clinical pastoral care, and negotiation of transcultural issues—than ever before. Old models of investigation that artificially isolated "folk medicine," "complementary and alternative medicine," and "biomedicine" as mutually exclusive have proven too limited in exploring the real-life complexities of health belief systems as they observably exist and are applied by contemporary Americans. Recent research strongly suggests that individuals construct their health belief systmes from diverse sources of authority, including community and ethnic tradition, education, spiritual beliefs, personal experience, the influence of popular media, and perception of the goals and means of formal medicine. Healing Logics explores the diversity of these belief systems and how they interact—in competing, conflicting, and sometimes remarkably congruent ways. This book contains essays by leading scholars in the field and a comprehensive bibliography of folklore and medicine.

[more]

front cover of Healing Traditions
Healing Traditions
African Medicine, Cultural Exchange, and Competition in South Africa, 1820–1948
Karen E. Flint
Ohio University Press, 2008

In August 2004, South Africa officially sought to legally recognize the practice of traditional healers. Largely in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and limited both by the number of practitioners and by patients’ access to treatment, biomedical practitioners looked toward the country’s traditional healers as important agents in the development of medical education and treatment. This collaboration has not been easy. The two medical cultures embrace different ideas about the body and the origin of illness, but they do share a history of commercial and ideological competition and different relations to state power. Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange, and Competition in South Africa, 1820–1948 provides a long-overdue historical perspective to these interactions and an understanding that is vital for the development of medical strategies to effectively deal with South Africa’s healthcare challenges.

Between 1820 and 1948 traditional healers in Natal, South Africa, transformed themselves from politically powerful men and women who challenged colonial rule and law into successful entrepreneurs who competed for turf and patients with white biomedical doctors and pharmacists. To understand what is “traditional” about traditional medicine, Flint argues that we must consider the cultural actors and processes not commonly associated with African therapeutics: white biomedical practitioners, Indian healers, and the implementing of white rule.

Carefully crafted, well written, and powerfully argued, Flint’s analysis of the ways that indigenous medical knowledge and therapeutic practices were forged, contested, and transformed over two centuries is highly illuminating, as is her demonstration that many “traditional” practices changed over time. Her discussion of African and Indian medical encounters opens up a whole new way of thinking about the social basis of health and healing in South Africa. This important book will be core reading for classes and future scholarship on health and healing in Africa.

[more]

front cover of Herbal and Magical Medicine
Herbal and Magical Medicine
Traditional Healing Today
James K. Kirkland, Holly Matthews, C. W. Sullivan III and Karen Baldwin, eds.
Duke University Press, 1992
Herbal and Magical Medicine draws on perspectives from folklore, anthropology, psychology, medicine, and botany to describe the traditional medical beliefs and practices among Native, Anglo- and African Americans in eastern North Carolina and Virginia. In documenting the vitality of such seemingly unusual healing traditions as talking the fire out of burns, wart-curing, blood-stopping, herbal healing, and rootwork, the contributors to this volume demonstrate how the region’s folk medical systems operate in tandem with scientific biomedicine.
The authors provide illuminating commentary on the major forms of naturopathic and magico-religious medicine practiced in the United States. Other essays explain the persistence of these traditions in our modern technological society and address the bases of folk medical concepts of illness and treatment and the efficacy of particular pratices. The collection suggests a model for collaborative research on traditional medicine that can be replicated in other parts of the country. An extensive bibliography reveals the scope and variety of research in the field.

Contributors. Karen Baldwin, Richard Blaustein, Linda Camino, Edward M. Croom Jr., David Hufford, James W. Kirland, Peter Lichstein, Holly F. Mathews, Robert Sammons, C. W. Sullivan III

[more]

front cover of In a Village Far from Home
In a Village Far from Home
My Years among the Cora Indians of the Sierra Madre
Catherine Palmer Finerty
University of Arizona Press, 2000

What do most career women do after a successful run on Madison Avenue? Catherine Finerty watched her friends settle into the country-club life. She opted instead for Mexico.

When the 60-year-old widow loaded up her car and headed south, what she found at the end of the road was far from what she expected. Finerty settled into a comfortable house just outside of Guadalajara and, although not a Catholic, she soon immersed herself in Franciscan volunteer work. It wasn't long before she found herself visiting small settlements hidden in the tropical mountains of western Mexico, and it was in Jesús María—so isolated that one could only get there by mule or small plane—that she found her new calling: the village nurse.

With its bugs and heat, no phones or running water, the tiny town was hardly a place to enjoy one's retirement years, but Finerty was quickly charmed by the community of Cora Indians and mestizos. Armed with modest supplies, a couple of textbooks, and common sense, she found herself delivering first aid, advising on public health, and administering injections. And in a place where people still believed in the power of shamans, providing health care sometimes required giving in to the magical belief that a hypodermic needle could cure anything.

Finerty's account of her eight years in Jesús María is both a compelling story of nursing under adverse conditions and a loving portrait of a people and their ways. She shares the joys and sorrows of this isolated world: religious festivals and rites of passage; the tragedy of illness and death in a place where people still rely on one another as much as medicine; a flash flood that causes such havoc that even less-than-pious village men attend Mass daily. And she introduces a cast of characters not unlike those in a novel: Padre Domingo and his airborne medical practice; the local bishop, who frowns on Finerty's slacks; Chela, a mestiza from whom she rents her modest two-room house (complete with scorpions); and the young Cora Indian woman Chuy, from whom she gains insight into her new neighbors.

Blending memoir and travel writing, In a Village Far from Home takes readers deep into the Sierra Madre to reveal its true treasure: the soul of a people.

[more]

front cover of Letras y Limpias
Letras y Limpias
Decolonial Medicine and Holistic Healing in Mexican American Literature
Amanda Ellis
University of Arizona Press, 2021
Letras y Limpias is the first book to explore the literary significance of the figure of the curandera within Mexican American literature. Amanda Ellis traces the significance of the curandera and her evolution across a variety of genres written by leading Mexican American authors, including Américo Paredes, Rudolfo Anaya, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Manuel Munoz, ire’ne lara silva, and more.

Ellis explores the curandera in relationship to decoloniality, bioethics, and the topic of healing while recognizing the limitations and spiritual shortcomings of Western medicine. Ellis argues that our contemporary western health-care system does not know how to fully grapple with illnesses that patients face. Ellis reads the curandera’s perennial representation as an ongoing example of decolonial love useful for deconstructing narrow definitions of health and personhood, and for grappling with the effects of neoliberalism and colonialism on the health-care industry.

Letras y Limpias draws from Chicana feminist theory to assert the importance of the mindbodyspirit connection. Ellis conveys theoretical insights about the continual reimagining of the figure of the curandera as a watermark across Mexican American literary texts. This literary figure points to the oppressive forces that create susto and reminds us that healing work requires specific attention to colonialism, its legacy, and an intentional choice to carry forward the traditional practices rooted in curanderismo passed on from prior generations. By turning toward the figure of the curandera, readers are better poised to challenge prevailing ideas about health, and imagine ways to confront the ongoing problems that coloniality creates. Letras y Limpias shows how the figure of the curandera offers us ways to heal that have nothing to do with copays or medical professionals refusing care, and everything to do with honoring the beauty and complexity of any, every, and all humans.

 
[more]

front cover of Mao's Bestiary
Mao's Bestiary
Medicinal Animals and Modern China
Liz P. Y. Chee
Duke University Press, 2021
Controversy over the medicinal uses of wild animals in China has erupted around the ethics and efficacy of animal-based drugs, the devastating effect of animal farming on wildlife conservation, and the propensity of these practices to foster zoonotic diseases. In Mao's Bestiary, Liz P. Y. Chee traces the history of the use of medicinal animals in modern China. While animal parts and tissue have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, Chee demonstrates that the early Communist state expanded and systematized their production and use to compensate for drug shortages, generate foreign investment in high-end animal medicines, and facilitate an ideological shift toward legitimating folk medicines. Among other topics, Chee investigates the craze for chicken blood therapy during the Cultural Revolution, the origins of deer antler farming under Mao and bear bile farming under Deng, and the crucial influence of the Soviet Union and North Korea on Chinese zootherapies. In the process, Chee shows Chinese medicine to be a realm of change rather than a timeless tradition, a hopeful conclusion given current efforts to reform its use of animals.
[more]

front cover of Maya Bonesetters
Maya Bonesetters
Manual Healers in a Changing Guatemala
By Servando Z. Hinojosa; Illustrations by Servando G. Hinojosa
University of Texas Press, 2020

Scholarship on Maya healing traditions has focused primarily on the roles of midwives, shamans, herbalists, and diviners. Bonesetters, on the other hand, have been largely excluded from conversations about traditional health practitioners and community health resources. Maya Bonesetters is the first book-length study of bonesetting in Guatemala and situates the manual healing tradition within the current cultural context—one in which a changing medical landscape potentially threatens bonesetters’ work yet presents an opportunity to strengthen its relevance.

Drawing on extensive field research in highland Guatemala, Servando Z. Hinojosa introduces readers to a seldom documented, though nonetheless widespread, variety of healer. This book examines the work of Kaqchikel and Tz’utujiil Maya bonesetters, analyzes how they diagnose and treat injuries, and contrasts the empirical and sacred approaches of various healers. Hinojosa shows how bonesetters are carefully adapting certain biomedical technologies to meet local expectations for care and concludes that, despite pressures and criticisms from the biomedical community, bonesetting remains culturally meaningful and vital to Maya people, even if its future remains uncertain.

[more]

front cover of Midwives and Mothers
Midwives and Mothers
The Medicalization of Childbirth on a Guatemalan Plantation
By Sheila Cosminsky
University of Texas Press, 2016

The World Health Organization is currently promoting a policy of replacing traditional or lay midwives in countries around the world. As part of an effort to record the knowledge of local midwives before it is lost, Midwives and Mothers explores birth, illness, death, and survival on a Guatemalan sugar and coffee plantation, or finca, through the lives of two local midwives, Doña Maria and her daughter Doña Siriaca, and the women they have served over a forty-year period.

By comparing the practices and beliefs of the mother and daughter, Sheila Cosminsky shows the dynamics of the medicalization process and the contestation between the midwives and biomedical personnel, as the latter try to impose their system as the authoritative one. She discusses how the midwives syncretize, integrate, or reject elements from Mayan, Spanish, and biomedical systems. The midwives’ story becomes a lens for understanding the impact of medicalization on people’s lives and the ways in which women’s bodies have become contested terrain between traditional and contemporary medical practices. Cosminsky also makes recommendations for how ethno-obstetric and biomedical systems may be accommodated, articulated, or integrated. Finally, she places the changes in the birthing system in the larger context of changes in the plantation system, including the elimination of coffee growing, which has made women, traditionally the primary harvesters of coffee beans, more economically dependent on men.

[more]

front cover of Mormon Healer Folk Poet
Mormon Healer Folk Poet
Mary Susannah Fowler's Life of 'Unselfish Usefulness'
Margaret Brady
Utah State University Press, 2000

logo for Harvard University Press
Naming the Local
Medicine, Language, and Identity in Korea since the Fifteenth Century
Soyoung Suh
Harvard University Press, 2017

Naming the Local uncovers how Koreans domesticated foreign medical novelties on their own terms, while simultaneously modifying the Korea-specific expressions of illness and wellness to make them accessible to the wider network of scholars and audiences.

Due to Korea’s geopolitical position and the intrinsic tension of medicine’s efforts to balance the local and the universal, Soyung Suh argues that Koreans’ attempts to officially document indigenous categories in a particular linguistic form required constant negotiation of their own conceptual boundaries against the Chinese, Japanese, and American authorities that had largely shaped the medical knowledge grid. The birth, decline, and afterlife of five terminologies—materia medica, the geography of the medical tradition, the body, medical commodities, and illness—illuminate an irresolvable dualism at the heart of the Korean endeavor to name the indigenous attributes of medicine.

By tracing Korean-educated agents’ efforts to articulate the vernacular nomenclature of medicine over time, this book examines the limitations and possibilities of creating a mode of “Koreanness” in medicine—and the Korean manifestation of cultural and national identities.

[more]

front cover of The Origins of Human Diet and Medicine
The Origins of Human Diet and Medicine
Chemical Ecology
Timothy Johns
University of Arizona Press, 1990
People have always been attracted to foods rich in calories, fat, and protein; yet the biblical admonition that meat be eaten “with bitter herbs” suggests that unpalatable plants play an important role in our diet. So-called primitive peoples show a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of how their bodies interact with plant chemicals, which may allow us to rediscover the origins of diet by retracing the paths of biology and culture.
 
The domestication of the potato serves as the focus of Timothy Johns’s interdisciplinary study, which forges a bold synthesis of ethnobotany and chemical ecology. The Aymara of highland Bolivia have long used varieties of potato containing potentially toxic levels of glycoalkaloids, and Johns proposes that such plants can be eaten without harm owing to human genetic modification and cultural manipulation. Drawing on additional fieldwork in Africa, he considers the evolution of the human use of plants, the ways in which humans obtain foods from among the myriad poisonous and unpalatable plants in the environment, and the consequences of this history for understanding the basis of the human diet. A natural corollary to his investigation is the origin of medicine, since the properties of plants that make them unpalatable and toxic are the same properties that make them useful pharmacologically.
 
As our species has adapted to the use of plants, plants have become an essential part of our internal ecology. Recovering the ancient wisdom regarding our interaction with the environment preserves a fundamental part of our human heritage.

Originally published in hardcover as With Bitter Herbs They Shall Eat It: Chemical Ecology and the Origins of Human Diet and Medicine
[more]

front cover of Our Own Way in This Part of the World
Our Own Way in This Part of the World
Biography of an African Community, Culture, and Nation
Kwasi Konadu
Duke University Press, 2019
Kofi Dᴐnkᴐ was a blacksmith and farmer, as well as an important healer, intellectual, spiritual leader, settler of disputes, and custodian of shared values for his Ghanaian community. In Our Own Way in This Part of the World Kwasi Konadu centers Dᴐnkᴐ's life story and experiences in a communography of Dᴐnkᴐ's community and nation from the late nineteenth century through the end of the twentieth, which were shaped by historical forces from colonial Ghana's cocoa boom to decolonization and political and religious parochialism. Although Dᴐnkᴐ touched the lives of thousands of citizens and patients, neither he nor they appear in national or international archives covering the region. Yet his memory persists in his intellectual and healing legacy, and the story of his community offers a non-national, decolonized example of social organization structured around spiritual forces that serves as a powerful reminder of the importance for scholars to take their cues from the lived experiences and ideas of the people they study.
[more]

front cover of Pandora's Box
Pandora's Box
Ethnography and the Comparison of Medical Beliefs: The 1979 Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures
Gilbert Lewis
HAU, 2020
In this book, written between 1979 and 2020, Gilbert Lewis distills a lifetime of insights he garnered as a medical anthropologist. He asks: How do different cultures' beliefs about illness influence patients' abilities to heal? Despite the advances of Western medicine, what can it learn from non-Western societies that consider sickness and curing to be as much a matter of social relationships as biological states? What problems arise when one set of therapeutic practices displaces another?

Lewis compares Indigenous medical beliefs in New Guinea in 1968, when villagers were largely self-reliant, and in 1983, after they became dependent on Western medicine. He then widens his comparative scope by turning to West Africa and discussing a therapeutic community run by a prophet who heals the ill through confession and long-term residential care.

Pandora's Box began life with the prestigious Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures that Gilbert Lewis delivered in 1979 at the University of Rochester. He expanded them with materials gathered over the next forty years, completing the manuscript a few weeks before his death. Engagingly written, this book will inspire anthropologists, medical professionals, students, and curious readers to look with new eyes at current crises in world health.
[more]

front cover of People of the Water
People of the Water
Change and Continuity among the Uru-Chipayans of Bolivia
Joseph Bastien
University of Utah Press, 2012

People of the Water is an ethnographic analysis of the cultural practices of the Uru-Chipayans—how they have maintained their culture and how they have changed. The Chipayans are an Andean people whose culture predates the time of the Incas (c. AD 1400), but they were almost wiped out by 1940, when only around 400 remained. Yet their population has quadrupled in the last 60 years. Joseph Bastien has spent decades living with and studying the Chipayans, and here for the first time he discusses the dynamics between traditional, social, and religious practices and the impending forces of modernity upon them. With the support of more than 100 illustrations he documents how, in spite of challenges, the Chipayans maintain ecological sustainability through an ecosystem approach that is holistic and symbolically embedded in rituals and customs.

Chipayans have a resilient and innovative culture, maintaining dress, language, hairstyle, rituals, and behavior while also re-­creating their culture from a dialectic between themselves and the world around them. Bastien provides the reader with a series of experienced observations and intimate details of a group of people who strive to maintain their ancient traditions while adapting to modern society. This ethnographic study offers insightful, surprising, and thoughtful conclusions applicable to interpreting the world around us.

[more]

front cover of Physicians of the Future
Physicians of the Future
Doctor-Influencers, Patient-Consumers, and the Business of Functional Medicine
Rosalynn A. Vega
University of Texas Press, 2024

The first scholarly exploration of the forums, practice, and economics of functional medicine.

Physicians of the Future interrogates the hidden logics of inclusion and exclusion in functional medicine (FM), a holistic form of personalized medicine that targets chronic disease. Rosalynn Vega uncovers how, as “wounded healers,” some FM practitioners who are former chronic disease sufferers turn their illness narratives into a form of social capital, leveraging social media to relate to patients and build practices as “doctor-influencers.” Arguing that power and authority operate distinctly in FM when compared to conventional medicine, largely because FM services are paid for out of pocket by socioeconomically privileged “clients,” Vega studies how FM practitioners engage in entrepreneurship of their own while critiquing the profit motives of the existing healthcare system, pharmaceutical industry, and insurance industry. Using data culled from online support groups, conferences, docuseries, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and TED Talks, as well as her own battles with chronic illness, Vega argues that FM practices prioritize the individual while inadvertently reinscribing inequities based on race and class. Ultimately, she opens avenues of possibility for FM interlocutors wrestling with their responsibility for making functional medicine accessible to all.

[more]

front cover of Red Medicine
Red Medicine
Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing
Patrisia Gonzales
University of Arizona Press, 2012

Patrisia Gonzales addresses "Red Medicine" as a system of healing that includes birthing practices, dreaming, and purification rites to re-establish personal and social equilibrium. The book explores Indigenous medicine across North America, with a special emphasis on how Indigenous knowledge has endured and persisted among peoples with a legacy to Mexico. Gonzales combines her lived experience in Red Medicine as an herbalist and traditional birth attendant with in-depth research into oral traditions, storytelling, and the meanings of symbols to uncover how Indigenous knowledge endures over time. And she shows how this knowledge is now being reclaimed by Chicanos, Mexican Americans and Mexican Indigenous peoples.

For Gonzales, a central guiding force in Red Medicine is the principal of regeneration as it is manifested in Spiderwoman. Dating to Pre-Columbian times, the Mesoamerican Weaver/Spiderwoman—the guardian of birth, medicine, and purification rites such as the Nahua sweat bath—exemplifies the interconnected process of rebalancing that transpires throughout life in mental, spiritual and physical manifestations. Gonzales also explains how dreaming is a form of diagnosing in traditional Indigenous medicine and how Indigenous concepts of the body provide insight into healing various kinds of trauma.

Gonzales links pre-Columbian thought to contemporary healing practices by examining ancient symbols and their relation to current curative knowledges among Indigenous peoples. Red Medicine suggests that Indigenous healing systems can usefully point contemporary people back to ancestral teachings and help them reconnect to the dynamics of the natural world.
 


[more]

front cover of Regulating Menstruation
Regulating Menstruation
Beliefs, Practices, Interpretations
Edited by Etienne van de Walle and Elisha P. Renne
University of Chicago Press, 2001
Menstruation, seen alternately as something negative—a "curse" or a failed conception—or as a positive part of the reproductive process to be celebrated as evidence of fertility, has long been a universal concern. How women interpret and react to menstruation and its absence reflects their individual needs both historically as well as in the contemporary cultural, social, economic, and political context in which they live. This unique volume considers what is known of women's options and practices used to regulate menstruation—practices used to control the periodicity, quantity, color, and even consistency of menses—in different places and times, while revealing the ambiguity that those practices present.

Originating from an Internet conference held in February 1998, this volume contains fourteen papers that have been revised and updated to cover everything from the impact of the birth control pill to contemporary views on reproduction to the pharmacological properties of various herbal substances, reflecting the historical, contemporary, and anthropological perspectives of this timely and complex issue.

[more]

front cover of Remembering to Live
Remembering to Live
Illness at the Intersection of Anxiety and Knowledge in Rural Indonesia
M. Cameron Hay
University of Michigan Press, 2004

Sasaks, a people of the Indonesian archipelago, cope with one of the country's worst health records by employing various medical traditions, including their own secret ethnomedical knowledge. But anxiety, in the presence and absence of illness, profoundly shapes the ways Sasaks use healing and knowledge. Hay addresses complex questions regarding cultural models, agency, and other relationships to conclude that the ethnomedical knowledge they use to cope with their illnesses ironically inhibits improvements in their health care.
M. Cameron Hay is a NSF Advance Fellow and an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the UCLA Center for Culture and Health.
[more]

front cover of Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women
Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women
Sweetening the Spirits, Healing the Sick
Isaac Jack Lévy and Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt
University of Illinois Press, 2002

Winner of the Ellii Kongas-Maranda Prize from the Women's Section of the American Folklore Society, 2003.

Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women preserves the precious remnants of a rich culture on the verge of extinction while affirming women's pivotal role in the health of their communities. Centered around extensive interviews with elders of the Sephardic communities of the former Ottoman Empire, this volume illuminates a fascinating complex of preventive and curative rituals conducted by women at home--rituals that ensured the physical and spiritual well-being of the community and functioned as a vital counterpart to the public rites conducted by men in the synagogues.

Isaac Jack Lévy and Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt take us into the homes and families of Sephardim in Turkey, Israel, Greece, the former Yugoslavia, and the United States to unravel the ancient practices of domestic healing: the network of blessings and curses tailored to every occasion of daily life; the beliefs and customs surrounding mal ojo (evil eye), espanto (fright), and echizo (witchcraft); and cures involving everything from herbs, oil, and sugar to the powerful mumia (mummy) made from dried bones of corpses.

For the Sephardim, curing an illness required discovering its spiritual cause, which might be unintentional thought or speech, accident, or magical incantation.  The healing rituals of domesticated medicine provided a way of making sense of illness and a way of shaping behavior to fit the narrow constraints of a tightly structured community. Tapping a rich and irreplaceable vein of oral testimony, Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women offers fascinating insight into a culture where profound spirituality permeated every aspect of daily life.

[more]

front cover of A Secret among the Blacks
A Secret among the Blacks
Slave Resistance before the Haitian Revolution
John D. Garrigus
Harvard University Press, 2023

A bold rethinking of the Haitian Revolution reveals the roots of the only successful slave uprising in the modern world.

Unearthing the progenitors of the Haitian Revolution has been a historical project of two hundred years. In A Secret among the Blacks, John D. Garrigus introduces two dozen Black men and women and their communities whose decades of resistance to deadly environmental and political threats preceded and shaped the 1791 revolt.

In the twenty-five miles surrounding the revolt’s first fires, enslaved people of diverse origins lived in a crucible of forces that arose from the French colonial project. When a combination of drought, trade blockade, and deadly anthrax bacteria caused waves of death among the enslaved in the 1750s, poison investigations spiraled across plantations. Planters accused, tortured, and killed enslaved healers, survivors, and community leaders for deaths the French regime had caused. Facing inquisition, exploitation, starvation, and disease, enslaved people devised resistance strategies that they practiced for decades. Enslaved men and women organized labor stoppages and allied with free Blacks to force the French into negotiations. They sought enforcement of freedom promises and legal protection from abuse. Some killed their abusers.

Through remarkable archival discoveries and creative interpretations of the worlds endured by the enslaved, A Secret among the Blacks reveals the range of complex, long-term political visions pursued by enslaved people who organized across plantations located in the seedbed of the Haitian Revolution. When the call to rebellion came, these men and women were prepared to answer.

[more]

front cover of Sounds of Tohi
Sounds of Tohi
Cherokee Health and Well-Being in Southern Appalachia
Lisa J. Lefler and Thomas N. Belt
University of Alabama Press, 2022
Dialogue between a medical anthropologist and a Cherokee linguist about health, well-being, and environmental issues
 
Sounds of Tohi: Cherokee Health and Well-Being in Southern Appalachia is the result of almost two decades of work by medical anthropologist Lisa J. Lefler and Cherokee elder and traditionalist Thomas N. Belt. The narrative consists of a dialogue between them that displays traditional Indigenous knowledge as well as the importance of place for two people from cultures and histories that intersect in the mountains of Southern Appalachia. Together, Lefler and Belt decolonize thinking about health, well-being, and environmental issues through the language and experiences of people whose identity is inextricably linked to the mountains and landscape of western North Carolina.

Lefler and Belt discuss several critical cultural concepts that explain the science of relationships with this world, with the spirit world, and with people. They explore tohi, the Cherokee concept of health, which offers a more pervasive understanding of relationships in life as balanced and moving forward in a good way. They converse about the importance of matrilineality, particularly in light of community healing, the epistemologies of Cherokee cosmography, and decolonizing counseling approaches.

The discussions here offer a different way of approaching the issues that face Americans in this difficult time of division. Lefler and Belt share their urgency to take action against the wholesale exploitation of public lands and the shared environment, to work to perpetuate tribal languages, to preserve the science that can make a difference in how people treat one another, and to create more forums that are inclusive of Native and marginalized voices and that promote respect and appreciation of one another and the protection of sacred places. Throughout, they rely on the preservation of traditional knowledge, or Native science, via Native language to provide insight as to why people should recognize a connection to the land.
 
[more]

front cover of State Healthcare and Yanomami Transformations
State Healthcare and Yanomami Transformations
A Symmetrical Ethnography
José Antonio Kelly
University of Arizona Press, 2011
Amazonian indigenous peoples have preserved many aspects of their culture and cosmology while also developing complex relationships with dominant non-indigenous society. Until now, anthropological writing on Amazonian peoples has been divided between “traditional” topics like kinship, cosmology, ritual, and myth, on the one hand, and the analysis of their struggles with the nation-state on the other. What has been lacking is work that bridges these two approaches and takes into consideration the meaning of relationships with the state from an indigenous perspective.

That long-standing dichotomy is challenged in this new ethnography by anthropologist José Kelly. Kelly places the study of culture and cosmology squarely within the context of the modern nation-state and its institutions. He explores Indian-white relations as seen through the operation of a state-run health system among the indigenous Yanomami of southern Venezuela.

With theoretical foundations in the fields of medical and Amazonian anthropology, Kelly sheds light on how Amerindian cosmology shapes concepts of the state at the community level. The result is a symmetrical anthropology that treats white and Amerindian perceptions of each other within a single theoretical framework, thus expanding our understanding of each group and its influences on the other. This book will be valuable to those studying Amazonian peoples, medical anthropology, development studies, and Latin America. Its new takes on theory and methodology make it ideal for classroom use.
[more]

front cover of Theories of Illness
Theories of Illness
A World Survey
George Peter Murdock
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980

An important contribution to medical anthropology, this work defines the principal causes if illness that are reported throughout the world, distinguishing those involving natural causation from the more widely prevalent hypotheses advancing supernatural explanations.

[more]

front cover of This World, Other Worlds
This World, Other Worlds
Sickness, Suicide, Death, and the Afterlife among the Vaqueiros de Alzada of Spain
María Cátedra
University of Chicago Press, 1992
The Vaqueiros de Alzada, a cattle-herding people in the Asturian mountains of Spain, have one of the highest suicide rates in Europe—and an attitude toward death that gives this statistic unusual meaning. This World, Other Worlds considers death among the Vaqueiros as a central cultural fact which reveals local ideas about the origin and destiny of humans, the relations of humans and animals, the configuration of the universe, and the nature of society. Interested chiefly in the conceptual and meaningful aspects of death, María Cátedra focuses on the cultural resources with which the Vaqueiros confront their own mortality—how they experience death and what this reveals about the way they see this world and other worlds.

Applying sensitive ethnographic insight to a rich body of oral testimony, Cátedra discloses an unsuspected symbolic universe native to the Vaqueiros. Death is seen here in close, coherent relation to pain, age, and suffering; sickness and suicide, one must understand the cultural valuation of different ways of dying and the conditions under which suicides take place. To understand what it means to be a Vaqueiro is to understand how suicide can be perceived by a people as acceptable.

A groundbreaking work in European ethnography, This World, Other Worlds takes symbolic analysis to a new level. In its illumination of local conceptions of death, grace, and sainthood, the book also makes a substantial contribution to the anthropology of religion.
[more]

logo for University of Chicago Press
Weaving the Threads of Life
The Khita Gyn-Eco-Logical Healing Cult among the Yaka
René Devisch
University of Chicago Press, 1993
For the Yaka of Southwestern Zaire, infertility is a tear in the fabric of life, and the Khita fertility ritual is a trusted way of reweaving the damaged strands. In Weaving the Threads of Life Rene Devisch offers an extended analysis of the Khita cult, which leads to an original account of the workings of ritual healing.

Drawing on many years among urban and rural Yaka, Devisch analyzes their understanding of existence as a fabric of firmly but delicately interwoven threads of nature, body, and society. The fertility healing ritual calls forth forces, feelings, and meanings that allow women to rejoin themselves to the complex pattern of social and cosmic life. These elaborate rites—whether simulating mortal agony and rebirth, gestation and delivery, or flowering and decay; using music and dance, steambath or massage, dream messages or scarification—are not based on symbols of traditional beliefs. Rather, Devisch shows, the rites themselves generate forces and meaning, creating and shaping the cosmic, physical, and social world of their participants.

In contrast to current theoretical methods such as postmodern or symbolical interpretation, Devisch's praxiological approach is unique in also using phenomenological insights into the intent and results of anthropological fieldwork. This innovative work will have ramifications beyond African studies, reaching into the anthropology of medicine and the body, comparative religious history, and women's studies.
[more]

front cover of Women as Healers
Women as Healers
Cross-Cultural Perspectives
McClain, Carol Shepherd
Rutgers University Press, 1989

In Women as Healers, thirteen contributors explore the intersection of feminist anthropology and medical anthropology in eleven case studies of women in traditional and emergent healing roles in diverse parts of the world. In a spectrum of healing roles ranging from family healers to shamans, diviner-mediums, and midwives, women throughout the world pursue strategic ends through healing, manipulate cultural images to effect cures and explain misfortune, and shape and are shaped by the social and political contexts in which they work. In an introductory chapter, Carol Shepherd McClain traces the evolution of ideas in medical anthropology and in the anthropology of women that have both constrained and expanded our understanding of the significance of gender to healing-one of the most fundamental and universal of human activities.

The contributors include Carol Shepherd McClain, Ruthbeth Finerman, Carolyn Nordstrom, Carole H. Browner, William Wedenoja, Marjery Foz, Barbara Kerewsky-Halpern, Laurel Kendall, Merrill  Signer, Roberto Garcia, Edward C. Green, Carolyn Sargent, and Margaret Reid.

[more]


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter