Accepted Paper:

Medicine or religion? The ambivalent debate on traditional, alternative and complementary healing examples from Germany and South Africa  

Author:

Britta Rutert

Paper short abstract:

The paper looks at the ambivalent and almost religiously debated position of alternative medicine & traditional healing within the (bio)-medical system.

Paper long abstract:

The biomedical systems conveys the message of being the most powerful and successful instance when it come to the treatment of harmful illnesses and disease like, for instance, cancer or diabetes. However, this hegemonic understanding of truth and healing is overshadowed by an engrossing quest for alternative healing. While biomedicine provides partial solutions, it leave out essential human qualities like well-being, affection or self-care. These, in contrast, are mostly left to traditional, alternative and complementary medicine and healing, systems that allegedly provide a holistic view to healing processes. Although increasingly frequented by patients globally, the position of these healing techniques remains marginalized within the medical system. The argument being always the lack of evidence in research, even though this argument increasingly runs out of validity. Research in the CAM field is intensively conducted across the globe from China to India to Europe to the United States.

This paper presents two case studies from Germany and South Africa that illustrate the ambivalent position of CAM in the health system, and thus towards health and healing, self and soul on the one hand and the economy on the other hand. The main question will be why the medical system chased out human aspects like touch, affection, soul, and time out of the (financed) medical system, not only in countries of the Global North also of the Global South? This discussions will show that both, the biomedical system as well as CAM, reveal to have religious notions.

Panel Medi04
Techniques of transformation, healing movements, and medicine worlds