Asian Medicine and Globalization

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Joseph S. Alter
University of Pennsylvania Press, Incorporated, Apr 29, 2005 - Social Science - 200 pages
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Medical systems function in specific cultural contexts. It is common to speak of the medicine of China, Japan, India, and other nation-states. Yet almost all formalized medical systems claim universal applicability and, thus, are ready to cross the cultural boundaries that contain them. There is a critical tension, in theory and practice, in the ways regional medical systems are conceptualized as "nationalistic" or inherently transnational. This volume is concerned with questions and problems created by the friction between nationalism and transnationalism at a time when globalization has greatly complicated the notion of cultural, political, and economic boundedness.

Offering a range of perspectives, the contributors address questions such as: How do states concern themselves with the modernization of "traditional" medicine? How does the global hegemony of science enable the nationalist articulation of alternative medicine? How do global discourses of science and "new age" spirituality facilitate the transnationalization of "Asian" medicine? As more and more Asian medical practices cross boundaries into Western culture through the popularity of yoga and herbalism, and as Western medicine finds its way east, these systems of meaning become inextricably interrelated. These essays consider the larger implications of transmissions between cultures.

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About the author (2005)

Joseph S. Alter is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Gandhi's Body: Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism and Knowing Dil Das: Stories of a Himalayan Hunter, both available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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