THE NATURE OF MEDICINE IN SOUTH AFRICA: THE INTERSECTION OF INDIGENOUS AND BIOMEDICINE
AuthorBishop, Kristina Monroe
Committee ChairRobbins, Paul
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation consisting of three case studies, examines how the intersection of biomedicine and indigenous medicine in South Africa has formed and reformed indigenous medical practice over the past century. South Africa, like many other countries, has emerged from colonialism with the need to reassert its indigenous practices. In the case of medicine, this reformation is of particular importance because the last several decades have seen the development of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Yet the contemporary discourses and policies surrounding indigenous medicine have much in common with their colonial predecessors. This research is interested in the way medicine has been constituted in a post-colonial context. In particular, how has the intersection of indigenous and biomedicine reconfigured and respatialized medicine in South Africa?The ways the colonial government acted to regulate indigenous medicine in essence simplified the practice and divided it into subcategories- `natural' medicine (e.g. herbs), `modern' medicine (e.g. stethoscopes) and `supernatural,' (e.g. throwing bones). The natural was the only category of practice legal in the country. Even as the government structure changed, and the previously disadvantaged eventually came to lead the country, these categories still persisted. As such, when a crisis like HIV/AIDS strikes and the need to enroll the help of the indigenous healers becomes clear, calls for their regulation, as a way to gain their assistance, are made. Although the current call does not aim to limit the number of healers, there are similar public health goals of rooting out the `bad' indigenous healers.Overall three major findings emerged: First, colonial regulations are re-introduced in a post-colonial context as discourses, which are then reinstated as policies; second, policy over the past century tends to view indigenous medicine in a simplified form (i.e. as plant-based and natural); and third, there is a constant tension between biomedicine and indigenous medicine where biomedicine works to extend its spaces of practice into the indigenous realm.