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Crossing Cultural Boundaries in East Asia and Beyond explores the personal complexities and ambiguities, and the successes and failures, of crossing borders and boundaries. While the focus is on East Asia, it universalizes cultural anxieties with comparative cases in Russia and the United States. The authors primarily engage the individual experiences of border-crossing, rather than more typically those of political or social groups located at territorial boundaries. Drawing on those individual experiences, this volume presents an array of attempts to negotiate the discomforts of crossing personal borders, and attends to the intimate experiences of border crossers, whether they are traveling to an unfamiliar cultural location or encountering the “other” in local settings such as the classroom or the coffee shop.
Divinatory Practices Among Jews Between Qumran and the Modern Period
In Unveiling the Hidden—Anticipating the Future: Divinatory Practices Among Jews Between Qumran and the Modern Period, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas and Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum collect ten studies based on primary sources ranging from Qumran to the modern period and covering Europe and the Mediterranean basin. The studies show Jews practising divination (astrology, bibliomancy, physiognomy, dream requests, astral magic, etc.) and implementing the study and practice of the prognostic arts in ways that allowed Jews to make them "Jewish," by avoiding any conflict with Jewish law or halakhah. These studies focus on the Jewish components of this divination, providing specific firsthand details about the practices and their practitioners within their cultural and intellectual contexts—as well as their fears, wishes, and anxieties—using ancient scrolls and medieval manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judaeo-Arabic.

Contributors include Michael D. Swartz, Helen R. Jacobus, Alessia Bellusci, Blanca Villuendas Sabaté, Shraga Bar-On, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas and Amos Geula, Dov Schwartz, Joseph Ziegler, and Charles Burnett.
Travelling ideas and shared practices of secularism in decolonising South and Southeast Asia
Author: Clemens Six
To what extent was the evolution of secularism in South and Southeast Asia between the end of the First World War and decolonisation after 1945 a result of transimperial and transnational patterns? To capture the diversity of twentieth-century secularisms, Clemens Six explores similarities resulting from translocal networks of ideas and practices since 1918. Six approaches these networks via a framework of global intellectual history, the history of transnational social networks, and the global history of non-state institutions. Empirically, he illustrates his argument with three case studies: the reception of Atatürk’s reforms across Asia and the Middle East; translocal women’s circles in the interwar period; and private US foundations after 1945.
Author: Kalpana Ram

Abstract

This essay uses Dalit women’s mediumship as a healing tradition that provides something of a “limit situation” from which to review basic assumptions about the varied ways in which we can understand what it is to “have” tradition—as an acquisition and inheritance that Dalit women enjoy like everyone else, but also as formal claims to value and recognition that are largely denied to Dalit women. Comparing Dalit women healers with male performers in ritual theater and more privileged healers in rural Tamil Nadu, the essay addresses dimensions of inequality comparatively neglected in studies of tradition as either constructed or invented within modernity. The essay moves us away from discussions of tradition that center on conscious claims to a consideration of the elements that mean that some traditions may never reach the level of being articulated as claims, let alone achieve recognition.

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Anthony Cerulli

Abstract

This epilogue reflects on scholarship in the study of South Asian medicines and healing traditions at the end of the twentieth century and in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. It underscores the growing multidisciplinarity of this field, and it suggests that the contributions to this special issue signal this development and speak to the theoretical richness and importance of this research.

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Joseph S. Alter

Abstract

As an institutionalized “indigenous” system of medicine in India, nature cure derives directly from ideas and practices developed within the rubric of Lebensreform, a radical, back-to-nature health reform movement that took shape in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century central Europe. Nature cure developed in twentieth-century India as a deeply embodied manifestation of Swadeshi, a social, cultural, and anticolonial political movement intimately concerned with independence and liberation. Significant parallels between Lebensreform and Swadeshi point toward an understanding of medicine based on the habitus of class and global countercultural practices. Using examples from the work of Adolf Just and other Germans writing at the turn of the nineteenth century and the case of Arogya Mandir, a nature cure hospital established by Vithal Das Modi in Gorakhpur in 1940, this essay examines how the radical, utopian ideals of Lebensreform were translated into institutionalized medical practice that facilitated the embodiment of Swadeshi as a political philosophy of health reform in colonial India.

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Shireen Hamza

Abstract

In the fourteenth century, the physician Shihāb al-Dīn Nāgaurī added an autobiographical chapter to the end of a medical text, describing his experiences learning and practicing medicine in India. Because this text is not easily accessible, especially when compared to autobiographies of physicians written in Arabic, I present the Persian text and translation of this chapter here. It is the final chapter of Cure of Illness (Shifāʾ al-maraẓ), composed in 1388 CE, and is one of the few texts of ṭibb (often known as Greco-Arabic medicine or Islamic medicine) from the early centuries of its spread in India. Nāgaurī reflects on the pluralism of his environment. He studied medicine with a ḥakīm (a practitioner of ṭibb) from Kabul as well as with local jogis (who taught him Ayurveda). He preferred his Hindu patients to his Muslim patients, finding the latter lacking in faith. The themes raised by Nāgaurī’s tale can help us study hybridity in Indian medicine before the European colonial encounter.

In: Asian Medicine
Author: Sabrina Datoo

Abstract

In 1923, the Presidency of Madras published The Report of the Committee on the Indigenous Systems of Medicine, the first of many Indian policy documents to regulate indigenous medicine. At first glance, the report seems to offer more evidence of the increasing entrenchment of religious nationalist positions within medical networks in the colonial period. Scholars have analyzed its main text, and a significant “Memorandum” associated with it, and found them emblematic of the formation of Hindu science in the early twentieth century. In this article, drawing on the methods of intellectual and cultural history, I conduct a close analysis of the unstudied Urdu-language sections of the report, which suggest a different interpretation. I argue that within the Urdu-language testimonies written by Hindu men, one finds a continuity with early modern medical courtly culture, whose resonances in the colonial period have largely been elided by modern historiography.

In: Asian Medicine