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Manufacturing Tibetan Medicine: The Creation of an Industry and the Moral Economy of Tibetanness

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Volume 12

Epistemologies of Healing

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Manufacturing Tibetan Medicine

The Creation of an Industry and the Moral Economy of Tibetanness

Martin Saxer

304 pages, 20 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-772-1 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (April 2013)

eISBN 978-0-85745-775-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook from these vendorsRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


This is an outstanding piece of scholarship… the overall structure of the book is excellent.”  ·  Sienna Craig, Dartmouth College

This is a timely and well-researched work that brings into focus the intersection between a globally expanding market in Tibetan medicine, the lived practice of medicine production, and issues pertinent to Tibetan identity. It is engaging and insightful, and nicely grounded ethnographically.”  ·  Denise M. Glover, University of Puget Sound

“…a highly readable exploration of medical, socio-cultural, political, economic, and aesthetic issues in the industrial production of Tibetan medicine in the PRC. The author approaches this subject with a pleasing curiosity, often questioning in unexpected ways assumptions that are regularly made about Tibet. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.”  ·  Theresia Hofer, University of Oslo


Within a mere decade, hospital pharmacies throughout the Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China have been converted into pharmaceutical companies. Confronted with the logic of capital and profit, these companies now produce commodities for a nationwide market. While these developments are depicted as a big success in China, they have also been met with harsh criticism in Tibet. At stake is a fundamental (re-)manufacturing of Tibetan medicine as a system of knowledge and practice. Being important both to the agenda of the Party State’s policies on Tibet and to Tibetan self-understanding, the Tibetan medicine industry has become an arena in which different visions of Tibet’s future clash.

Martin Saxer received a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford and is currently a Marie Curie Fellow at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Since 2003, he has worked on the history and contemporary practice of Tibetan medicine in Russia (Buryatia) and Tibet. He is the director of the documentary film ‘Journeys with Tibetan Medicine’ and runs the visual ethnography blog

Subject: Medical Anthropology
Area: Asia-Pacific


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