Healing Powers and Modernity in Asian Societies: Traditional Medicine, Shamanism, and Science

Edited by Linda H. Connor and Geoffrey Samuel


The subject of this book is the state of healing practices in contemporary Asian societies. In what ways is indigenous healing being reconstituted through processes of transnational modernity? How is the praxis of healing being transformed by the politics of health within modern nation-states and by the processes of commodification of both healers and their therapies? What is the significance of indigenous healing in the construction of new discourses of cultural identity and new nationalisms? How do patients in Asian societies engage with the plurality of healing practices that are themselves shaped by wider relations of power? How is modernity experienced through the embodied senses and the suffering body?

These are large and complex questions, especially since South, Southeast and East Asian societies present many different facets of the encounter between “local,” “indigenous” or “traditional” healing, and modernity. In this book we explore the present state of a range of healing practices in their Asian locales. The authors, all of whom are anthropologists with extensive research experience in Asian societies, acknowledge the multiple healing resources available to patients in these societies, while emphasizing the ways in which the state legitimizes and transforms certain healing systems, and thus how institutional power relations inflect healing in local contexts, while never totally defining it.



Healing Powers in Contemporary Asia Linda H. Connor

Part One: Healing in the Modern State: Korea, Malaysia, and India

The Cultural Politics of “Superstition” in the Korean Shaman World: Modernity Constructs its Other Laurel Kendall

Tradition and Change in Malay Healing Carol Laderman

Modernity and the Midwife: Contestations Over a Subaltern Figure, South India Kalpana Ram

The Political Ecology of Health in India: Indigestion as Sign and Symptom of Defective Modernization Mark Nichter

Part Two: Healing on the Margins: Malaysia, Indonesia, and China

Engaging the Spirits of Modernity: The Temiars Marina Roseman

Presence, Efficacy, and Politics in Healing among the Iban of Sarawak Amanda Harris

Sorcery and Science as Competing Models of Explanation in a Sasak village Cynthia L. Hunter

Medicines and Modernities in Socialist China: Medical Pluralism, the State, and Naxi Identities in the Lijiang Basin Sydney D. White

Part Three: Healing, Power and Identity in Tibetan Societies

Tibetan Medicine at the Crossroads: Radical Modernity and the Social Organization of Traditional Medicine in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China Craig R. Janes

Particularizing Modernity: Tibetan Medical Theorizing of Women’s Health in Lhasa, Tibet Vincanne Adams

Tibetan Medicine in Contemporary India: Theory and Practice Geoffrey Samuel

Publication Details

Healing Powers and Modernity: Traditional Medicine, Shamanism and Science in Asian Societies. Edited by Linda H. Connor and Geoffrey Samuel. Bergin and Garvey (Greenwood Publishing), Westport, CT. Published in February 2001. (ISBN 0-89789-715-3)

Purchasing Information

You can enquire about this book from Bergin & Garvey, 88 Post Road, Westport, CT 06881, USA. Website: www.greenwood.com

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