Reviewer nishant7483 | Review

#308 Rethinking Traditional Medicine: Anthropology and Shifting Discourse on Possession and Ritual Healing in India

Coresponding author's contact details

First name Ivan Middle name Last name Souček
Title Dr. Organization / Institution Matej Bel University Department Social studies and ethnology
Address Tajovskeho 40 Postal / Zip code 97401 Country SK
E-Mail Hidden Phone number Hidden Presenting author Yes

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Abstract title

Rethinking Traditional Medicine: Anthropology and Shifting Discourse on Possession and Ritual Healing in India

Abstract text

It is well known that the medical environment in India can be characterized by a number of local healthcare providers offering a variety of services. One of the most popular techniques of healing in South Asia is performed by persons who can enter a trance-like state and become the “vessel” of a deity. Looking back at the historiography of ritual healing and possession, we should keep in mind that the topic has been analysed by various theoretical frameworks largely developed by Western scholars fascinated by “exotic” cultures. Early missionaries and ethnographers largely saw possession as a profound example of exotic practice attributed to evil spirits. Most approaches subsequently have preferred a medical paradigm for interpretation, sharing the common assumption that the meaning of possession has to be couched in terms of neurosis or psychosis. However, decline in modern social science interest in positivistic ideologies and the gradual deviation from the idea of Western superiority have led to a changing focus on the role of traditional healers in India. Several recent anthropological contributions are, therefore, not only inclined towards a more sensitive approach in dealing with effectiveness of ritual healing but also propose a more appropriate methodology for research of the phenomenon generally considered by Western audiences to be exotic. The aim is not to criticize Western conceptual understanding of possession practices in India, but simply to analyse the shifting discourse on healthcare issues in a medical landscape characterized by existence of a great variety of treatment options.

Conference topic

Panel no. 58 - Coming of Age for the Traditional Medicine System of Indigenous Populations: Is Connecting the Unconnected the Way Forward?

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Abstract Review

This abstract was reviewed on 2021-01-04 11:19h by nishant7483

Reviewer decision