The politics and possibilities of integrative medicine: An anthropological analysis of pluralistic health care movements in America
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn this dissertation, I explore health care movements as social movements which are complexly embedded in history, culture, and political economy. In order to illuminate issues of power, gender, economics, and modality and practitioner politics, medical pluralism and health movements are examined from nineteenth century eclecticism to the current interest in integrative medicine. From the Thompsonian health movement of the 1830's to the fluorescence of alternative healing in the 1960's and 1990's, the dissertation takes the reader through the multifaceted health and healing landscape. This winding path leads up to the current immense interest in and use of non-biomedical therapies in the United States. Using theoretical orientations from phenomenology to critical medical anthropology, the dissertation examines integrative healing movements in local and national contexts. Locally, ethnographic work was based in Ithaca, NY, through participant observation with Ithaca's Integrative Community Wellness Center, a nonprofit grassroots initiative that aims to provide comprehensive wellness care in community contexts. Nationally, I examine the roles of institutions such as HMO's and hospitals. Alternative, complementary, and integrative healing movements have become a profound part of popular and medical cultures, yet they have heretofore not been a major focus of anthropological or social science research. The dissertation is a contribution to understanding the nature and dynamics of these phenomena and what the future may hold for the use and combination of pluralistic approaches to health and wellness care.
Degree ProgramGraduate College