This panel explores biomedicine's changes and various impacts through ethnographic analysis in Africa. It focuses especially on the biomedical knowledge, practices, and socialities that can be situated in the complex and changing web of social relationships and the intricate flow of cultures.
This panel aims to explore through ethnographic studies in Africa the social and cultural impacts of biomedicine on the everyday lives of people as well as changes in biomedicine. We are concerned particularly with interactions in various parts of Africa between biomedical practices and knowledge on the one hand and complex and changing socialties and the intricate flow of cultures on the other. Undoubtedly, such interactions have been taking place in diverse ways. These may include situations involving a plurality of biomedical promoters ranging from the apparatuses of states to NGOs of various kinds and with objectives which are not necessarily uniform; local populations comprising a multitude of groups and individuals with various cultural backgrounds that receive, reinterpret or reject biomedicine differently; groups and individuals in communication or conflict with each other and affecting the course of therapy management, often in unexpected ways; the increasing mobility of people broadening therapeutic options, while also foreclosing therapeutic choices by allowing migrants to maintain their attachment to the medicine of their hometowns; and medical cultures in a state of flux, where biomedical practitioners and laypeople may experiment and gamble on hitherto unknown medical practices and products. Such ethnographic studies are well positioned to shed new light on not only the medical-anthropological study of biomedicine in Africa, which deserves much more scholarly attention, but also contemporary changes in African medicine.