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Rethinking Resilience
The First World War and Health: Rethinking Resilience considers how the First World War (1914-1918) affected mental and physical health, its treatment, and how the victims – not only soldiers and sailors, but also medics, and even society as a whole - tried to cope with the wounds sustained. The volume, which contains over twenty articles divided into four sections (military, personal, medical, and societal resilience), therefore aims to broaden the scope of resilience: resilience is more than the personal ability to cope with hardship; if society as a whole cannot cope with, or even obstructs, personal recovery, resilience is difficult to achieve.

Contributors are Carol Acton, Julie Anderson, Leo van Bergen, Ana Carden-Coyne, Cédric Cotter, Dominiek Dendooven, Christine van Everbroeck, Daniel Flecknoe, Christine E. Hallett, Hans-Georg Hofer, Edgar Jones, Wim Klinkert, Harold Kudler, Alexander McFarlane, Johan Meire, Heather Perry, Jane Potter, Fiona Reid, Jeffrey R. Reznick, Stephen Snelders, Hanneke Takken, Pieter Trogh, and Eric Vermetten.
Integration and Segregation in Southeastern Europe and Beyond, 1050-1970
Tracing Hospital Boundaries explores, for the first time, how the forces of both integration and segregation shaped hospitals and their communities between the eleventh and twentieth centuries in Europe, North America and Africa. Within this broad comparative context it also shines a light on a number of case studies from Southeastern Europe.
The eleven chapters show how people’s access to, and experience of, healthcare institutions was affected by social, cultural and economic, as well as medical, dynamics. These same factors intersected with developing healthcare technologies to shape hospital design and location, as well as internal policies and practices. The volume produces a new history of the hospital in which boundaries – both physical and symbolic – are frequently contested and redrawn.

Contributors are Irena Benyovsky Latin, David Gentilcore, Annemarie Kinzelbach, Rina Kralj-Brassard, Ivana Lazarević, Clement Masakure, Anna Peterson, Egidio Priani, Gordan Ravančić, Jonathan Reinarz, Jane Stevens Crawshaw, David Theodore, Christina Vanja, George Weisz, and Valentina Živković.
Rise and Fall of Disease in Europe
In A History of Population Health Johan P. Mackenbach offers a broad-sweeping study of the spectacular changes in people’s health in Europe since the early 18th century. Most of the 40 specific diseases covered in this book show a fascinating pattern of ‘rise-and-fall’, with large differences in timing between countries. Using a unique collection of historical data and bringing together insights from demography, economics, sociology, political science, medicine, epidemiology and general history, it shows that these changes and variations did not occur spontaneously, but were mostly man-made. Throughout European history, changes in health and longevity were therefore closely related to economic, social, and political conditions, with public health and medical care both making important contributions to population health improvement.

Readers who would like to have a closer look at the quantitative data used in the trend graphs included in the book can find these it here.

Abstract

The therapeutic success of Asian medicine has been discussed mostly in relation to efficacy, effectiveness, and evidence thereof. By taking Unani medicine as an example, this article calls for the reconsideration of the dominance of biomedical frameworks in the anthropological study of Asian medicine by paying closer attention to emic dimensions of successful treatment and their relation to eminence. On the basis of ethnographic fieldwork among practitioners of Unani (Greco-Islamic) medicine in India and following a practice ontology approach, the author examines how private-practicing hakims (Unani physicians) enact successful treatment in their everyday practice. For them, therapeutic success is closely connected to professional authority, a legacy of the Greco-Islamic tradition, in which therapeutic success is also enacted through eminence. Approaching therapeutic success beyond the therapeutic outcome draws attention to further dimensions at stake, revealing that scientific evidence is not necessarily the dominant enactment of successful treatment in Asian medicine.

In: Asian Medicine

Abstract

This special section of Asian Medicine brings together three scholars of the history of healing practices and medicine in premodern Asian societies to explore whether and how emic boundaries between religion and medicine were drawn in different historical contexts. In this introduction, we use the example of ancient Japan in an attempt to show how first steps towards a separation of religion and medicine can be identified, even when they have not yet been clearly differentiated institutionally or distinguished conceptually as distinct fields of action. By doing so, we operationalize the macro-sociological question central to the ‘multiple secularities’ approach, namely how ‘secular’ fields of action—here, curing disease—emancipate themselves from ‘religion’ in premodern ‘non-Western’ societies. We propose to look for differences in the framing and interpretation of healing activities, for the ascription of either (professional) competence or (religious) charisma to the healers, to ask whether the activities are to be interpreted as a social function or service, and to identify the sources of authority and legitimacy. This is followed by a brief summary and discussion of the contributions by Selby, Czaja, and Triplett.

In: Asian Medicine

Abstract

This article will explore the relationship between Tibetan medicine and Tibetan Buddhism by analyzing early Tibetan medical treatises. It will investigate mantras, meditative visualizations, and rituals that were used to prevent and to cure diseases and will study their medical context. Some of the questions addressed will be: Are these techniques employed in the case of special diseases or at particular stages of medical treatment? If so, how firmly are they established in medical texts? Are they just accessary parts and not really “medical,” or do they form an integral part of medical expertise in premodern Tibet? This article will thus question our current understanding of Tibetan medicine from an emic textual perspective on healing practices.

In: Asian Medicine

Abstract

What does it mean to inventory all the components of the human body, and what do those inventories tell us about medical ideas and practice? I compare the lists of body parts in the śārīra-sthānas (sections relating to the body) of the Caraka-saṃhitā (ca. first century CE) and the Suśruta-saṃhitā (ca. second century CE). Rather than provide a detailed list of differences, I contemplate what these differences “mean” in terms of counting as a practice and of how we might think about these two texts as articulations of the concerns of the “theorist-physicians” of the Caraka-saṃhitā and the “anatomist-surgeons” of the Suśruta-saṃhitā. How might a close comparative reading of these passages—an “emic” reading, if you will—shed light on medical practice in early India and its relationship with metaphysical concerns, issues of selfhood, sexual “difference,” and the problem of understanding what cannot be seen with the naked eye?

In: Asian Medicine

Abstract

The Indian idea of supernatural entities, or “demons,” that harm children found its way into Chinese translations of Buddhist texts. Through Buddhism, the idea also reached premodern Japan. Given that medicine in premodern Japan was predominantly practiced by “secular” court physicians and Buddhist monastic doctors, one might assume that court physicians focused on childhood diseases with “natural” causes, while Buddhist monastics concentrated on “supernatural” causes and ritual remedies for childhood illnesses. I aim to establish whether this was actually the case by assessing ideas and practices as well as social institutions and individuals engaged in the healing of children in premodern Japan. The wider Asian context will also be considered. I conclude that in caring for children, “demonology” was combined with ideas and practices from diverse traditions in Japan and remained alive largely outside—but not in opposition to—the Buddhist and medical institutions well into the early modern period.

In: Asian Medicine
In Physiognomy in Ming China: Fortune and the Body, Xing Wang investigates the intellectual and technical contexts in which the knowledge of physiognomy ( xiangshu) was produced and transformed in Ming China (1368-1644 C.E.). Known as a fortune-telling technique via examining the human body and material objects, Xing Wang shows how the construction of the physiognomic body in many Ming texts represent a unique, unprecedented ‘somatic cosmology’. Applying an anthropological reading to these texts and providing detailed analysis of this technique, the author proves that this physiognomic cosmology in Ming China emerged as a part of a new body discourse which differs from the modern scholarly discourse on the body.