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Medicine Between Science and Religion: Explorations on Tibetan Grounds

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Volume 10

Epistemologies of Healing

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Medicine Between Science and Religion

Explorations on Tibetan Grounds

Edited by Vincanne Adams, Mona Schrempf, and Sienna R. Craig

324 pages, 11 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-758-7 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (December 2010)

ISBN  978-1-78238-122-8 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (March 2013)

eISBN 978-1-84545-974-1 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“…shows the substantial recent developments in studies of Tibetan medicine. These developments not only point the way forward for the field, they also hold significant implications for other social studies of medicine and science, in Asia and beyond.  ·  The Journal of Asian Studies

The implications of [this volume’s] approach to knowledge and research have far-reaching implications beyond the limits of any one academic discipline, and may also inform choices concerning the provision of healthcare worldwide. Hence the insights proffered by the nuanced analyses of this book, framed as they are with such discerning editorial skill, have profound value for medical anthropology and, more generally, for social scientists, practitioners of healing arts, health seekers, and health providers as they (re)negotiate the theories and practices of health care in the liminal spaces that interface the science and religion of our increasingly globalised world.  ·  Anthropos

This volume, containing thirteen articles, including an introduction by the editors and an illuminating conclusion by G. Samuel, is an excellent illustration of this development [of the advances made in medical anthropology over the last two decades]."  ·  Religious Studies Review

"This beautifully crafted volume explores the entanglement of science, medicine and religion, thus transporting us beyond all too common dualistic oppositions of tradition and modernity, science and religion. Close examination of the history of modern Tibetan medicine, and of healing encounters, clinical research and institutional changes, make it startlingly evident how biomedical science and its practices are extensively translated and transformed through incorporation into diverse Tibetan settings, even as Tibetan medicine, long since syncretic, is made yet more so – the traffic is decidedly two-way. Grounded in the sensibility of the sowa rigpa – the “science of healing” foundational to Tibetan medicine, these essays permit no facile interpretation of biomedicine as either usurper or savior. The profoundly humanistic insights of this book have worldwide significance, and should be read diligently by everyone involved in global health care and the social sciences of medicine."  ·  Margaret Lock, Co-author, An Anthropology of Biomedicine excellent contribution to the literature on Tibetan medicine in the context of modernity and globalization... The editors do an exceptional job at framing the analyses provided in specific chapters. Their introduction to the volume is wonderfully written and instructive to the reader in regards to the scope and intent of the volume.  ·  Craig Janes, Simon Fraser University, BC


There is a growing interest in studies that document the relationship between science and medicine - as ideas, practices, technologies and outcomes - across cultural, national, geographic terrain. Tibetan medicine is not only known as a scholarly medical tradition among other Asian medical systems, with many centuries of technological, clinical, and pharmacological innovation; it also survives today as a complex medical resource across many Asian nations - from India and Bhutan to Mongolia, Tibet (TAR) and China, Buryatia - as well as in Western Europe and the Americas. The contributions to this volume explore, in equal measure, the impacts of western science and biomedicine on Tibetan grounds - i.e., among Tibetans across China, the Himalaya and exile communities as well as in relation to globalized Tibetan medicine - and the ways that local practices change how such “science” gets done, and how this continually hybridized medical knowledge is transmitted and put into practice. As such, this volume contributes to explorations into the bi-directional flows of medical knowledge and practice.

Vincanne Adams is Professor and Director of the University of California San Francisco Graduate Program in Medical Anthropology (joint with UC Berkeley). Her books include Tigers of the Snow and Other Virtual Sherpas (1996), Doctors for Democracy (1998) and Sex and Development (with Stacy Pigg, 2005).

Mona Schrempf is a social and cultural anthropologist and post-doctoral research fellow at the East medicine Research Centre, Complementary Medicine, School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster London (2012-2015). Her present research concerns the globalisation of Tibetan medicine(s) in Europe and Asia that is part of the Wellcome Trust funded project “Beyond Tradition: Ways of Knowing and Styles of Practice in East Asian Medicines 1000 to the Present”. She is senior co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity. Having studied at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Free University of Berlin (PhD 2001), with a focus on the anthropology of ritual, performance and religion in South Asia, she has undertaken long-term ethnographic research and fieldwork in rural Tibetan communities in China, the Indian Himalayas and Bhutan on Tibetan medicine, ritual healing, public and women’s reproductive health as well as religious festivals and ethnic identity. Her books are Studies of Medical Pluralism in Tibetan History and Society (eds. with S. Craig, M. Cuomu, F. Garrett, IITBS  2010), Figurations of Modernity. Global and Local Representations in Comparative Perspective (eds. with V. Houben, Campus 2008), and Soundings in Tibetan Medicine (ed., Brill 2007).

Sienna R. Craig is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Healing Elements: Efficacy and the Social Ecologies of Tibetan Medicine (2012) and Horses Like Lightning: A Story of Passage through the Himalayas(2008), and the co-editor of Studies of Medical Pluralism in Tibetan History and Society(2011).

Subject: Medical AnthropologyAnthropology of Religion
Area: Asia-Pacific


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