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Asymmetrical Conversations: Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries

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Volume 14

Epistemologies of Healing

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Asymmetrical Conversations

Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries

Edited by Harish Naraindas, Johannes Quack, and William S. Sax

276 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-308-6 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2014)

eISBN 978-1-78238-309-3 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook from these vendorsRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Cultivating the Nile is a fascinating account, which is likely to attract the attention of the growing community of water anthropologists. It also deserves a wide readership within the community of water policy-makers and others working with resource governance. Its detailed descriptions of encounters around water will most certainly resonate with observations from elsewhere, and the ways in which the narrative reveals how water is made in these encounters is a refreshing reminder that water’s materiality matters in its social life.” · Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute

“This is a compelling and intellectually satisfying volume that offers important new ethnographic work which, I would argue, revitalizes studies of medical pluralism… an important project by some of the most outstanding and well-known scholars in these areas of study — several of whose names readers will recognize and inspire interest in the volume.” · Murphy Halliburton, City University of New York

“…an excellent volume, useful for teaching at undergrad and postgrad level in anthropology, medical anthropology, religious studies and South Asian studies.” · Caroline Osella, SOAS

“The articles display a uniformly high level of intellectual skill, and provide a good combination of methodological expertise, basic research, and cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary acumen. I am very impressed.” · Frederick M. Smith, University of Iowa


Ideas about health are reinforced by institutions and their corresponding practices, such as donning a patient's gown in a hospital or prostrating before a healing shrine. Even though we are socialized into regarding such ideologies as "natural" and unproblematic, we sometimes seek to bypass, circumvent, or even transcend the dominant ideologies of our cultures as they are manifested in the institutions of health care. The contributors to this volume describe such contestations and circumventions of health ideologies, and the blurring of therapeutic boundaries, on the basis of case studies from India, the South Asian Diaspora, and Europe, focusing on relations between body, mind, and spirit in a variety of situations. The result is not always the "live and let live" medical pluralism that is described in the literature.

Harish Naraindas has taught at the Universities of Delhi, Iowa, Freiburg and Heidelberg. He is currently Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Iowa. He has published widely in leading journals on medical tourism and co-edited a special issue of Anthropology and Medicine (April 2011).

Johannes Quack is principal investigator of the Emmy Noether-Project “The Diversity of Nonreligion” at Goethe-University, Frankfurt. He has been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the “Asia & Europe” Cluster of Excellence, Heidelberg University, and the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal. He is author of Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India (2012), and co-editor of The Problem of Ritual Efficacy (2010).

William S. Sax has taught at Harvard, Christchurch, Paris, and Heidelberg, where he is Chair of Ethnology at the South Asia Institute. His major works include Mountain Goddess: Gender and Politics in a Central Himalayan Pilgrimage (1991), The Gods at Play: Lila in South Asia (1995), Dancing the Self: Personhood and Performance in the Pandav Lila of Garhwal (2002), God of Justice: Ritual Healing and Social Justice in the Central Himalayas (2008), and The Problem of Ritual Efficacy (2010).

Subject: Medical AnthropologyAnthropology of Religion
Area: AsiaEurope


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