Healing in Community: Medicine, Contested Terrains, and Cultural Encounters Among the Tuareg

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Exploring the multiple communities of healing among the Tuareg people of Niger, this work examines the beliefs and practices that surround healing and the quest for medicine. In studying ideals of healing that face challenges from wider political and economic forces, the author enables us to understand these culturally and historically constructed processes. This leads us to comprehend how many Tuareg construct and deconstruct local notions of medicine and healers, how patients cope with current problems in health care, and more broadly, how medical knowledge is constructed in anthropology and ethnography.

Rasmussen reveals new perspectives on healing in systems of power and symbolism, bridging interpretive cultural and political economy approaches. This book explores the consequences and implications of the idea that in order to obtain medicine, one must submit to authority, but proceeds beyond merely demonstrating this idea, already largely a truism in anthropology. The Tuareg data show how local residents are not passive victims, but rather active agents in responding to and resisting authority structures of medicine and medical knowledge.

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Editorial Reviews

Rasmussen (anthropology, U. of Houston) examines the interconnections between local health concerns, cultural survival and autonomy in contemporary Tuareg society. Coverage includes an overview of Tuareg culture, history and positioning within Niger; key ideas and practices in local healing such as the nature of power and knowledge- acquisition, its relation to symbolism and politics, and cultural values related to the practice of medicine; Tuareg ritual healing specialists in relation to cultural concepts of person and body in the local space; an exploration of Tuareg medicine as a semiotic system of communication; and the unifying notion of place in Tuareg medical/ritual healing. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780897897617
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/30/2001
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

SUSAN RASMUSSEN is Professor of Anthropology, University of Houston.

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Table of Contents

Cultural and Historical Overview
Pt. I Into the Ethnographic Space of Tuareg Medicine: Healing in Multiple Systems of Power and Symbolism 19
Ch. 1 Remembered Traumas 21
Ch. 2 At the Borders and Crossroads of Medical Knowledge and Power: Personal/Bodily Transformations and Healing in Community 59
Pt. II Into the Epistemological Space of Tuareg Medicine: Modalities and Signs in Medical Discourse and Practice 99
Ch. 3 Medicine as a System of Communication: The Olfactory Mode and Aroma in Tuareg Ritual Healing 101
Ch. 4 Almsgiving and Sacrifice in the Community of Healing 133
Pt. III Concluding Analyses 165
Ch. 5 The Medical Space of Alterity 167
Ch. 6 Conclusions 199
Notes 207
Bibliography 219
Index 229
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