Accepted paper:

Medical pluralism and plural epistemolgy. African lessons from Madagascar


Albert Roca (University of Lleida)

Paper short abstract:

The utilitarian opportunities open by the recent focus of development agencies on medical pluralism depends on the epistemological capacity of searchers to deal with “deep” logical diversity. Africa (and particularly Madagascar) is an excellent field to survey this new challenge.

Paper long abstract:

The medical pluralism well established in Africa has changed from being seen as an obstacle to be proposed as an opportunity by the development agencies, from WHO to UNESCO. This change is beginning to have some effects in the African Health Systems, especially in the cases where it coincides with a previous national or local strategy. Anyway, the first approaches have been generally very instrumentals, either searching to transform traditional and local therapists in something similar to the Chinese "barefoot doctors" or to extract biological principles of customary recipes. Advances are promising, but they announce big problems if the diverse logical implied are not taken into account. The paper analyses the consequent epistemological challenges focusing in some Malagasy cases, contrasted with other well known African examples.

panel P181
Local Knowledge: development opportunities coming from the countryside? Methodological and political strategies and challenges in the health area