- Code CHMD8021
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
- ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
- Course subject Culture, Health and Medicine
- Areas of interest Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Development Studies, Public Health
- Academic career PGRD
- Mode of delivery Online or In Person
This course introduces cross-cultural comparative perspectives on indigenous medicines, healing and health in colonial and post-colonial contexts. Contemporary condition of indigenous medicines and healing practices in Australia, Hawaii, Africa, India, and Southeast Asian nations, for example, are intertwined with the history of European colonial racial and gendered objectification of “native” bodies, their medicines and healing approaches. We will examine the relationship between medicine as a tool of empire and how indigenous medicines, healthcare practices, and health have been constructed, regulated, and transformed by colonial and post-colonial science, medicine, and social policies. We will also explore how indigenous conceptions of the body, health, and approaches to care persist as distinctive from contemporary biomedical paradigm. We will explore the effects of this distinction on indigenous medicines, healing practices, and health—that today is also manifest in clinical settings worldwide as a cultural tension between the biomedical doctor and the indigenous patient. Part 1 of the course will focus on the relationship between colonial medicine and indigenous medicines. Part 2 will focus on indigenous forms of medicines and conception of health and healing. Part 3 will focus on the contemporary forms of indigenous medicines and the health of indigenous people in light of the re-emergence of molecular biology, genetic science and the rise of cultural competency paradigm in biomedicine. In the process, students will gain a historical understanding of key concepts associated with the construction of indigenous medicines such as ethnomedicine, traditional, alternative, and medical pluralism vis-à-vis the idea of what is modern and the formation of modernity.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- effectively apply a critical anthropological perspective to the cross-cultural and comparative study of indigenous medicines, health, and healing;
- examine and understand the place of colonial policies, colonial medicines, and post-colonial development in present conditions of indigenous medicines, health, and healing practices;
- critically analyze how and why indigenous conceptions of the body, health, and approaches to care persist as distinctive from contemporary biomedical paradigm;
- examine and discuss the relationship between historical and contemporary forms of indigenous medicines and the re-emergence of molecular biology, genetic science and the cultural competency paradigm in biomedicine; and
- effectively apply critical thinking and writing and debate issues of social policies pertaining to indigenous health and medicines.
- Writing Critical Reflections/Participation (6x400 words) (30) [LO 1,5]
- Research Project (This combines both the research paper and the presentation (55% and 15%) (null) [LO null]
- Research Paper (3600 words) (55) [LO 2,3,4]
- Presentation of paper (Conference style e.g. Powerpoint summary (10 min.) (15) [LO 2,3,4,5]
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 22 hours of lectures and 14 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities.
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing
Preliminary ReadingDavid Arnold. 1988. Imperial Medicine and Indigenous Societies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Maitrii Aung-Thwin. 2010. Healing, Rebellion, and the Law. Ethnologies of Medicine in Colonial Burma, 1928-1932. The Journal of Burma Studies. 14:151-186.
John Comaroff and Jean Comaroff. 1992 Medicine, Colonialism, and the Black Body. Ethnography and the Historical Imagination. Westview Press. pp. 215-234.
Byron J. Good. 1994. Medical Anthropology and the Problem of Belief. In Medicine, Rationality, and Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-13.
Clarence Gravlee. 2009. How race becomes biology: embodiment of social inequality. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 139(1), 47-57.
Charles Leslie, ed. 1980. Medical Pluralism in World Perspective. Special Issue on “Medical Pluralism.” Social Science and Medicine 14B (4):190-196.
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