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‘When there were only gods, then there was no disease, no need for doctors’: forsaken deities and weakened bodies in the Indian Himalayas

Abstract : In this study the author analyzes the relationship between the individual body and the body politic in a region of the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, in connection with social changes occurring at the local and trans-local level, which are impacting the status of the different healing systems. By investigating these issues, this paper aims to shed light on some of the complex ways in which practitioners and patients who take part in a local method of healing, in this case ritual healing through possession, respond to the expansion of biomedicine. The first part of the study analyzes the local landscape of medical pluralism, with particular attention to the local ritual system, which has been for a long time the dominant healing technique and which serves as a political regime for the control of bodies. The second part sets out the therapeutic itineraries and experiences of the actors engaged in these journeys. Finally, attention turns to the way in which changes that have occurred in the wider society as well as in the local landscape of medical pluralism are conceptualized by individuals through discourse about the body that reveals a perception of physical enfeeblement.
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Serena Bindi. ‘When there were only gods, then there was no disease, no need for doctors’: forsaken deities and weakened bodies in the Indian Himalayas. Anthropology and Medicine, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2012, 19 (1), pp.85-94. ⟨10.1080/13648470.2012.660467⟩. ⟨hal-01983722⟩

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