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Title:Anthropological approaches to African misfortune: from religion to medicine
Author:Whyte, S. ReynoldsISNI
Book title:Culture, experience and pluralism: essays on African ideas of illness and healing / ed. by Anita Jacobson-Widding and David Westerlund. - Uppsala: Department of Cultural Anthropology, University of Uppsala; Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International
Geographic terms:Africa
Subjects:African religions
medical anthropology
Abstract:In the past fifteen years, an important shift has occurred in anthropological studies of African misfortune. Affliction, which was once dealt with in monographs on African religion and cosmology, now seems to belong to the realm of medicine and medical anthropology. This shift in perspective is not simply a change in academic fashion, nor is it an epiphenomenon of the anthropological job market or the tendency towards narrow specialization of American anthropology. There are very real historical processes in Africa itself which have encouraged the medical anthropology sort of approach. In order to illustrate what is involved in the two perspectives, the author turns to her own study of misfortune in East Africa, particularly the fieldwork she carried out among the Nyole of eastern Uganda in 1969-1971, and her baseline study for the Tanzania Mental Health Programme, carried out in 1982. She concludes by suggesting that the religious and medical perspectives on African responses to affliction can supplement one another in important ways. Bibliogr.