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[2017/08/04] ISA International Guest Lecture: Slow Medicine in Fast Times - Tibetan Medicine and "Alternative Humanitariansim" after Nepal's 2015 Earthquakes

 

ISA-Einladung

Sienna R. Craig (Dartmouth College, USA): "Slow Medicine in Fast Times: Tibetan Medicine and 'Alternative Humanitarianism' after Nepal's 2015 Earthquakes"

Friday, 4. August 2017, 4PM

ÖAW, Institut für Sozialanthropologie
A-1020 Wien, Hollandstrasse 11-13

 

It is often said that traditional medicine, including Tibetan medicine, succeeds in the treatment of chronic conditions, whereas biomedicine is a better option for acute care. This stereotype is voiced not only by biomedical practitioners and patients but also by Tibetan physicians themselves. Indeed, it is part of how
Tibetan medical “neo-traditionalism” (Pordié 2008) operates. Even as this view is embraced and validated by diverse social actors, it remains incomplete. The limitations of this dichotomy become particularly apparent when considering health care needs that are biological, psychological, and social, such as those which emerge during states of emergency, including natural disasters. Even so, determining how – or if – and to what ends traditional medicine should be deployed in such moments remains virtually absent in global health circles and under-represented in scholarship on medical humanitarianism. Meanwhile, Tibetan physicians may be called to action in times of crisis. This lecture focuses on Tibetan medical reactions to the devastating 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, specifically through a series of “amchi camps” that were organized to serve earthquakeaffected communities and internally displaced people in Kathmandu. An ethnographic examination of Tibetan medical practitioners’ responses to these seismic events allows for a rethinking of what traditional medicine is “good for,” particularly in relation to that human urge of “the need to help” (cf. Maalki 2015). After providing an anatomy of the amchi camps, I consider how these events – through their provision of therapy, their affect, and their politics – articulate an “alternative humanitarianism” that, by turns, invokes and challenges the moral sentiments and strategies for action that tend to define global health emergency response.