EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P088)
Dialogue among indigenous traditions and health
Location U7-14
Date and Start Time 23 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Renee De La Torre (Ciesas) email
  • Maria Beldi de Alcantara (University of Sao Paulo) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel will discuss the tense dialogue among indigenous healing and the ways it has acquired new meanings by other actors and spiritual movements and even rejected by the Western biomedical knowledge.

Long Abstract

Indigenous healing systems and traditional healing practices, are now embedded in dynamic interfaces with various systems of healing and health. These may be called biomedical western institutions, therapeutic circuits with emphasis on holistic health, networks promoted by new age, the field of psychological or psychiatric therapies, searches for alternative health, the commodification of ethnic tourism, health or spiritual; workshops to address addictions, neoshaman icos circuits as the trippers consumers power plants; different religious and spiritual currents that provide healing and so on. These interfaces can produce novel hybrids, but are also causing conflicts, tension and new contradictions within indigenous groups, the actors mentioned above and the biomedical system. This table looks inviting academic researchers to analyze interfaces such negotiations, contradictions, and assimilation that are experiencing indigenous health systems.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"We are all one": trans-localization of 'indigenous' healing methods

Author: Anna Zadrożna (Yeditepe University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the use of 2 South American, and one European, "Power Plants" in Poland and shows how indigenous healing methods are being conceptualized and contextualized (and re-localized) in a given socio-cultural context.

Long Abstract

Throughout Europe, accessibility and popularity of "traditional healing methods", including the use of the Power Plants has been boosting during the last decade. Expanding Internet networks, global media, and increasing mobility of people enable circulation of knowledge about the Plants and their usage in local-national, as well as trans-national contexts. In contrast to arguments of globalization of the Plants, this paper shows how indigenous healing methods are being re-localized. This paper analyzes the use of 2 South American, and one European, "Power Plants" (Ayahuasca, San Pedro and Amanita Muscaria) in Poland, and evolves in three sections. First, it focuses on the contextualization and circulation of knowledge about healing methods involving use of the Plants on local/national and trans-national/trans-local levels. Who are the 'healers', what healing methods they apply in Poland, and 'where' do these methods come from? What meaning has the 'origin' of the Plant for its users? Secondly, the paper asks how Power Plants are conceptualized among their users given the multi-sourced knowledge about the Plants. What motives, beliefs and expectations drive them to use the Plants? The focus is on cases when Plants have been used as complementary/replacement to modern medical treatment, including psychotherapy, and contemplates on intersections of the medical/scientific and the local/traditional. The third section reflects on the meaning of 'indigenous' and its` relation to notions such as: locality, continuity, authenticity, nationalism and tradition.

Spirituality and public health: an ethnographic approach from the Brazilian case

Author: Rodrigo Toniol (University of Campinas)  email

Short Abstract

Contending that the category of spirituality deserves attention on its own, we demonstrate that the notion of “spirituality” has been mobilized agents and institutions involved in the provision of alternative/complementary therapies within Brazilian public health system.

Long Abstract

The recent availability of alternative therapies in Brazil's public health system is a result of the 971 Interministerial Order, which, in 2006, established the National Policy of Integrative and Complementary Practices (PNPIC). Such policy aims at ensuring and promoting access, through the Unified Health System (SUS), to traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, phytotherapy, thermalism, and anthroposophical medicine. In this paper, whose focus is on the policies of ICPs, we investigate the processes of legitimation and regulation of such therapeutic practices within SUS, as well as their implementation routines in health care units, clinics and public hospital in Brazil. We analyse the invention of Integrative and Complementary Practices (ICPs). Invention of ICPs refers here equally to the production of bureaucratic state records that are specific to such policy, and to the daily work of therapists, physicians and managers who strive to turn alternative/complementary therapies into ICPs. With this in mind, we conclude that the ICPs policies, in addition to legitimizing the availability of alternative/complementary therapies within SUS, likewise create the regulatory tools for carrying out such practices. In the second part of this paper, we look into the ties established between ICPs, spirituality and health. Contending that the category of spirituality deserves attention on its own, we demonstrate that the notion of "spirituality" has been mobilized agents and institutions involved in the provision of alternative/complementary therapies within SUS. We indicate, lastly, that the provision of ICPs within SUS has become an official means of drawing attention to the spiritual dimension of health.

Indigenous healing: an alternative for whom? Mapuche medicine and unequal care access in Chilean neoliberal health system

Author: Anna Pomaro (EHESS)  email

Short Abstract

The integration of indigenous healing practices into public health system in Chile is analyzed through the ethnography of a mapuche medical service implemented in a Santiago suburb. We explore new popular and indigenous perspectives on healing emerging beside State regulation of traditional practices

Long Abstract

In the last twenty years, Chilean governments have implemented intercultural policies aiming at indigenous integration and including some programs focused on promoting their access to public health services, highlighting traditional medical knowledge and integrating indigenous healers in public health system.

The purpose of this paper is to analyze such policies not only per se, but in their connection with the reconfiguration of Chilean health system in the last decades. Started in the dictatorship period, those changes brought to a harsh privatization of medical services and led to the exclusion of a large part of low incomes population to quality medical care.

We present an ethnographical return on a project of indigenous healing practices integration into public health structure, involving a mapuche association and the municipality of La Florida, a Santiago suburb, where a large part of mapuche population is settled. We aim at questioning political effects of intercultural health policies implementation, which seem to materialize in the imposition of a heavy bureaucratic framework and an administrative control over traditional practices. Nevertheless, beside these constraints, we also want to explore the connections emerging around this project between mapuche members of the service and these lower classes marginalized from public health care, which represent the very users of mapuche medicine in La Florida. This will allow us to question in which way mapuche and popular representations of health, care and ethnicity are crossing, building unexpected new spaces of dialogue, in the margins of State integration project.

The way of the shaman: struggles, contradictions, exchanges within global shamanism

Author: Lisa Lazzarini (FCSH UNL)  email

Short Abstract

This paper intends to reflect on the reciprocal influence between indigenous 'traditional' shamans and the so-called neoshamans, involving contradictions but also exchanges, in an ongoing competition for power and visibility in the global market of spiritual healing.

Long Abstract

This paper intends to reflect on the reciprocal influence between 'traditional' shamans of indigenous communities and the so-called neoshamans. The study bases mainly on the observation of shamanic practices diffused in Europe. Strong interconnections between these realities clearly emerge, involving contradictions and hybridizations, but also exchanges and collaborations, in an ongoing competition for power and visibility in the global market of spiritual healing. The effects of this interconnection are on both sides. Many traditional shamans worldwide have been achieving legitimacy outside their communities, losing partly the link with their territory in favour of gaining ground at a global scale. On the other side, European transcultural neoshamans, in order to obtain legitimacy within their own communities, point at the traditional shamans as models exactly because of their territorial link. International gatherings with hundreds of worldwide shamans confirm the success of Eliadian shamanism. And, if on one hand indigenous people seem rather to look for western medicine and goods, on the other western 'mestizos' are becoming the most motivated followers of traditional shamanism. The empowerment of traditional shamans is causing for example a growing success of shamanic tourism and training in Latin America as well as an increasing presence of Latin American shamans working in Europe. While the Foundation for Shamanic Studies fully embraces Eliadian shamanism up to the point of developing a program for indigenous shamanic assistance, at the same time traditional shamans have strong reasons to converge towards this universal model. But which are the consequences of this success?

Temazcal in global therapeutic network

Authors: Renee De La Torre (Ciesas)  email

Short Abstract

This article will focus on a study of resignification of the ritual Temazcal bath (a steam bath originally from a North American native tradition, that is also known as inipi or sweatlodge).

Long Abstract

This article will focus on a study of resignification of the ritual Temazcal bath (a steam bath originally from a North American native tradition, that is also known as inipi or sweatlodge). This ritual has recently been adopted from native American traditions by various agents (seekers of an alternative spirituality, or of experiences of reconnecting to nature, female circles, neo-native or neo-pagan movements, and therapists in search of new techniques of holistic healing). We may say that the temazcal is undergoing a dynamic of transterritorialization, and is being reconverted into a cultural good circulating transnationally, offered and experienced in different places, with different subjects, and distinct meanings and functional uses. The way the temazcal is practiced and experienced varies according to its new contexts and the agents who have appropriated it. To illustrate this the paper shows three different ritual uses of the temazcal, which correspond to different contexts and the trajectories of agents impressing new senses of symbolic efficiency on it. The cases presented consider the need to effect an anthropology that can cast into relief how central the physical, "in the body" experience is, and how important the metaphorizing and resymbolizing of the elements present in the ritual, in terms of perceptions and experimentation of nature, the female cycle, relations and ancestors.

In dialogue with spirits: how western psychological therapy deals with vengeful spirits of the dead

Author: Lars Hedegaard Williams (Aarhus University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will examine the practice of a psychological therapeutic organization working in northern Uganda, and the problems related to the ‘exportation’ of western psychological concepts and practices to places with different concepts of trauma and healing.

Long Abstract

Western psychological therapy is being 'exported' around the world to former conflict zones to the extent of what some scholars have termed an 'empire of trauma' (Fassin & Reichtmann, 2009). Some scholars view this as having a great healing potential for individuals and communities (Verena et al., 2011; Tol et al., 2011; Neuner et al., 2004), yet much criticism of these practices has also been raised (McHugh & Treisman, 2007; Summerfield, 1999; Bracken, 1998; 2003). After generations of war and armed conflict in northern Uganda the region is now at peace, and also here psychological therapeutic organizations are becoming present.

In this paper, I will present my empirical work on one such psychological research and therapeutic organization working in northern Uganda. Through an analysis based on the practical use of language and on the contextual setting of the psychological therapy, I will discuss problematic issues involved in this therapeutic practice.

My claim is, that one potential problem of exporting psychological therapy around the world concerns the different ideas of what constitutes a psychological phenomenon and to what extent suffering, e.g. psychological trauma, is a moral phenomenon (Whyte, 1997). In the Acholi region in northern Uganda conditions coined as 'trauma' or 'PTSD' will often be understood as cen, a haunting by the spirits of the vengeful dead. This idea is highly moral and calls for moral dialogue and repercussion. I will examine how these different meaning systems correspond to each other and what happens when they engage in dialogue.

Tibetan medicine: saviour of Tibetan culture, salvation for the western mind

Author: Susannah Deane (University of Glasgow)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the impact of outsiders' interest in the indigenous Tibetan medical tradition on Tibetans' own understandings of it, as it acquires new meanings as a "spiritual" healing tradition for westerners and becomes a facet of cultural preservation for the Tibetan community.

Long Abstract

Often billed as the "spiritual medicine of Tibet", the indigenous and diverse Tibetan medical tradition has recently gained popularity in the west. Marketed as an alternative to a soul-less "Big Pharma" of biomedicine, with western-oriented books on the subject often in the new age and spirituality sections of bookshops, the tradition has been commodified and re-packaged as a salvation for the ills of a capitalist/consumerist west by both non-Tibetans interested in "alternative health" and by the Tibetan Government-in-exile. For outsiders, this is perhaps an extension of a long-held western yearning for a mythical Tibetan "Shangri la"; for the Tibetan Government-in-exile, this discussion of a "holistic" Tibetan healing system is part of its drive to garner interest and support for Tibetan culture more broadly amidst fears of cultural degradation both inside and outside Tibet. This paper explores some of the effects of these interests and the resulting tensions on a long-standing healing tradition, and on those Tibetans who practice and utilise it, as Tibetan medicine comes up against both the biomedical tradition and western "spirituality". With westerners' interest in a particular form of Tibetan medicine and healing driving a focus on the "spiritual" elements of this indigenous tradition as an antidote to the "scientific" biomedical tradition of the west, I argue that practitioners and patients alike may feel under pressure to emphasise and even utilise only certain aspects of their own medical theory and practice, altering the very way in which they view their own tradition.

"What makes us Muisca is our medicine": traditional healing practices as indicators of indigenous authenticity

Author: Maria Fernanda Esteban Palma (University of Pennsylvania)  email

Short Abstract

Urban indigenous groups are frequently accused of inauthenticity. As traditional medicine became an indicator of indigeneity, groups form Bogota, Colombia, are appropriating the healing practices of other groups to be, and feel, more indigenous. Benefits and hardships emerge from such incorporations.

Long Abstract

States, the non-indigenous majorities and even some indigenous people see urban indigeneity with suspicion, keeping urban groups under constant scrutiny. As indigenous recognition in Colombia is granted in terms of "cultural diversity", such diversity is measured against a generalizing model of indigeneity. This western ideal is enrooted in transnational representations of indigenous people as particularly spiritual; so many groups are consciously publicizing their spirituality through indigenous healing practices. In Bogota, indigenous Muisca groups are frequently accused of inauthenticity both for being urban and for their recent cultural revitalization. To overcome these accusations, they are establishing connections with groups that are well known for their traditional healing practices, creating their own healing systems based on theirs. The source groups can be ayahuasca or tobacco shamans from the Amazon, experienced Kogui leaders, Inca healers, and even leaders from Central or North American tribes. This paper focuses on how this inter-group transmission of knowledge takes place. First, I explore how a somehow unified healing system is produced by the Muisca, even when the healing practices acquired by each group come from very dissimilar sources. Second, I explain how the groups manage to frame their healing practices as traditions, regardless of their late incorporation. Finally, I critically analyse the impact that using healing practices as an indicator of authentic indigeneity has on the life of the members of these groups. By doing so, I expose some of the struggles behind the frequent demand to appear authentic to be indigenous.

Important biographical aspects for becoming a spiritual healer in Germany: a qualitative study

Author: Barbara Stöckigt (Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin)  email

Short Abstract

Spiritual healers in contemporary Germany are a heterogeneous and growing group. One aim was to learn about which biographical aspects were relevant to the process of becoming a healer. Two types of healers emerged in our study: the wounded healer type and the healer by interest type.

Long Abstract

Spiritual healers in contemporary Germany are a heterogeneous and growing group, yet little data exists about them. Therefore, one aim was to learn about which biographical aspects and events were important to the process of becoming a healer. The study was based on semi-structured interviews combined with participant observations. According to the healers, a talent for healing can be inborn, inherited or developed through life experiences. Most of the healers experienced a crisis which prompted their transformation to healers (the wounded healer type). A smaller group became healers mainly out of interest without going through crisis and by focusing on the spiritual attitude itself (the healer by interest type). Both types see the basis of healing in a connection to a transcendent reality which enables an open, loving and empathetic attitude. The connections between healing talents, crises and suffering are well known in traditional healing systems. The similarities and differences towards spiritual healers in contemporary Germany will be presented and discussed.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.