Practices of proof in South Asia: the production, negotiation and use of evidence in medicine and healing
William Sax (South Asia Institute, Heidlberg)
Sandra Bärnreuther (University of Zurich)
Roger Jeffery (University of Edinburgh)
Start time:
23 July, 2014 at 14:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel examines concepts and practices regarding evidence in South Asia. We are interested in accounts of how notions of evidence are employed, negotiated and contested, as well as in analyzing practices that facilitate and govern the production of evidence in medicine and healing.

Long abstract:

The rise of evidence-based biomedicine has provoked new scholarly reflections on the notion of evidence (e.g. Ecks 2008, Lambert 2006, 2009), but along with related questions of truth, knowledge and efficacy, "evidence" has long been a topic of reflection by numerous healing traditions outside of biomedicine, such as Ayurveda, Yunani, and various vernacular healing traditions. Despite the immense current interest in the topic, detailed studies on evidence-making in actual healing encounters (e.g. consultations, rituals) and in formal medical settings (e.g. hospitals, laboratories, medical schools and journals) in South Asia are rare. This panel will assemble scholars from Social and Medical Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies as well as Public Health to address the following questions: What does evidence mean in diverse locales or at different times? What kinds of data are considered to be evidence in various medical traditions and fields? And what has to be made 'evident' in the first place? Further, how is evidence produced in daily healing practices and how are evidence and experience connected in this regard? What forms of evidence are valued in certain circumstances and what social, political and economic factors are involved in the comparison and judgment of evidence? How do different kinds of evidence co-exist and relate to each other? And finally, how are claims of evidence used in therapeutic sessions, clinical encounters, institutional contexts, scientific debates or political decision-making processes?