Asian Medicine and Globalization

Asian Medicine and Globalization

EDITED BY JOSEPH S. ALTER
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt3fj52q
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Asian Medicine and Globalization
    Book Description:

    Medical systems function in specific cultural contexts. It is common to speak of the medicine of China, Japan, India, and other nation-states. Yet almost all formalized medical systems claim universal applicability and, thus, are ready to cross the cultural boundaries that contain them. There is a critical tension, in theory and practice, in the ways regional medical systems are conceptualized as "nationalistic" or inherently transnational. This volume is concerned with questions and problems created by the friction between nationalism and transnationalism at a time when globalization has greatly complicated the notion of cultural, political, and economic boundedness. Offering a range of perspectives, the contributors address questions such as: How do states concern themselves with the modernization of "traditional" medicine? How does the global hegemony of science enable the nationalist articulation of alternative medicine? How do global discourses of science and "new age" spirituality facilitate the transnationalization of "Asian" medicine? As more and more Asian medical practices cross boundaries into Western culture through the popularity of yoga and herbalism, and as Western medicine finds its way east, these systems of meaning become inextricably interrelated. These essays consider the larger implications of transmissions between cultures.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0525-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Chapter 1 Introduction: The Politics of Culture and Medicine
    (pp. 1-20)

    The chapters in this volume deal with the ways in which bodies of knowledge are manipulated to produce coherence and health, broadly defined. This book focuses on forms of medicine that tend to be linked, in practice and the imagination, to specific nations: India, China, England, and the United States most directly, but also Australia, Tibet, Japan, Singapore, and Germany. And yet the manipulation of health in any one of these places, borrowing ideas from any combination of the others—or from no clearly defined place at all—confounds the boundedness of these national entities. In other words, there is...

  4. Chapter 2 Āyurvedic Acupuncture—Transnational Nationalism: Ambivalence About the Origin and Authenticity of Medical Knowledge
    (pp. 21-44)
    Joseph S. Alter

    Few if any would argue that medicine is not politicized on a number of levels and that it is deeply permeated by culture and cultural values. Yet medical systems, like the sciences on which they are based, are usually founded on universalist principles of health and healing, defined in pan-human terms and in terms of natural laws that are thought to transcend culture. Quite apart from what happens in practice, on the level of theory medicine is usually imagined as objective and value-free or connected to pervasive forces of transcendent, spiritual, and metaphysical power. If not by any means always...

  5. Chapter 3 Deviant Airs in “Traditional” Chinese Medicine
    (pp. 45-66)
    Vivienne Lo and Sylvia Schroer

    Difficulties in rendering into English the Chinese term xie have dogged historians of Chinese medicine working in different historical periods and social/religious contexts. A core meaning of xie is “oblique” or “deviating,” not zheng, “physically upright,” an opposition frequently invoked in Chinese discourses on morality and early Chinese medical classics. Common translations of the term in a medical context include “evil,” “heteropathy,” or “perversity”; it refers to invading agents, both conscious entities and manifestations of naturalistic phenomenon like wind or damp, that enter the body and cause varying degrees of devastation. Related treatments range from draining toxic agents to acupuncture...

  6. Chapter 4 Reinventing Traditional Medicine: Method, Institutional Change, and the Manufacture of Drugs and Medication in Late Colonial India
    (pp. 67-77)
    S. Irfan Habib and Dhruv Raina

    Several themes resurface in accounts of the encounter between so-called traditional systems of Indian medicine and modern allopathic medicine, each of which focuses differently on the politics of knowledge, science, and empire (Petitjean, Jami, and Moulin 1992). In each of these themes, the nation-state most visibly confers an identity on traditional knowledge systems and often frames the encounter between these knowledge systems in terms of conflict or dialogue (Raina and Habib 1999; Chakrabarty 1998). The history of science as a discipline retreated from its original Enlightenment ideal of the late eighteenth century to a phase where regional or continental essentialisms...

  7. Chapter 5 Health and Medicine in British India and the Dutch Indies: A Comparative Study
    (pp. 78-87)
    Deepak Kumar

    India and Indonesia provide a striking example of similarity and contrast. In both countries, their famed tropical riches attracted foreign intervention and both fell to colonization. Health was considered crucial in both countries and both had a medical tradition of their own. Western medicine, on the other hand, moved overseas riding the colonial wave. It became an integral part of the colonial project. Recent scholarship considers Western medicine “imperialist” both metaphorically and literally, and “as a form of knowledge and as a practice” (Cunningham and Andrews 1997; D. Kumar 1995, 2001; MacLeod and Lewis 1988).

    There is, however, a note...

  8. Chapter 6 Nationalism, Transnationalism, and the Politics of “Traditional” Indian Medicine for HIV/AIDS
    (pp. 88-106)
    Cecilia Van Hollen

    Traditional medicine. Complementary medicine. Alternative medicine. Herbal medicine. Complementary alternative medicine. These phrases have been flashing on radar screens of international public health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and market investors since the late twentieth century and are gaining even more attention in the early twenty-first century. In May 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its first strategic program to monitor the use of traditional medicine worldwide and to make national policy recommendations for the regulation of traditional medicine. The guidelines for this strategy have been published in a WHO report, entitled WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002–2005 (2002.) The impetus...

  9. Chapter 7 Mapping Science and Nation in China
    (pp. 107-119)
    Nancy N. Chen

    The mandate of heaven (tianming) is a Confucian notion that anyone who is successful in seizing the reins of power retains the rightful authority to rule over China. Across the centuries, many imperial rulers and their contestants invoke tianming to declare each other as morally bankrupt while legitimizing their own form of hierarchy as better. In this chapter, I argue that the mandate of science operates as a particular formation in late socialism to anchor and legitimize state authority. Such a strategy offered bureaucrats the opportunity to define themselves as modern protectors of ordinary people from the influences of evil...

  10. Chapter 8 Sanskrit Gynecologies in Postmodernity: The Commoditization of Indian Medicine in Alternative Medical and New-Age Discourses on Women’s Health
    (pp. 120-131)
    Martha Ann Selby

    The two earliest extant medical compendia in Sanskrit, the Caraka Saṃhitā (circa second century C.E.) and the Suśruta Saṃhitā (circa mid-third century C.E.)¹ contain detailed information about women’s bodies throughout their pages in various taxonomic and narrative forms, but this information primarily emerges in the śārīra-sthānas (or “chapters on physiology”) in both texts, embedded in prescriptive writings on conception, pregnancy, and postnatal care. In this chapter, I will examine how proponents of Euro-American New Age and alternative medicines have transformed early Āyurvedic ideas about women’s health into an essential and influential segment of the postmodern wellness industry. I will analyze...

  11. Chapter 9 China Reconstructs: Cosmetic Surgery and Nationalism in the Reform Era
    (pp. 132-150)
    Susan Brownell

    Most of the contributions to this volume trace the paths followed by local medical practices as they travel across national, regional, and other boundaries. This chapter, however, traces a reverse direction of travel: it describes the transnational development of the field of cosmetic surgery and how it was appropriated into local, everyday practices in China. In this chapter, I take some of the conventional thinking about transnationalism and add to it a distinctly anthropological twist—in the form of insights from anthropologists Victor Turner and John MacAloon—which, I believe, creates a better framework for inquiry into the meaning-making processes...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 151-162)
  13. References
    (pp. 163-176)
  14. List of Contributors
    (pp. 177-180)
  15. Index
    (pp. 181-188)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 189-189)