Sunday, March 29, 2009

Am I crazy? You tell me!

A couple of interesting questions arose while reading this week. Let's start with Arakelova's article on healing practices in Armenia. Being somewhat close to this ongoing fight for years by being a German citizens and by experiencing cultural clashes between Yezidis and Kurds on a weekly basis, this article was especially interesting to me. At some point, when the article talked about ethno-religious groups, I started to think about the question we had discussed many times before:

What defines identity? What does it take/need to be a culture of its own? Can a culture extinguish because the passing on orally of traditions fails?

Another topic that evolved in this reading, but also in Kim's article on Korean elderly was assimilation or acculturation. Arakelova talks about "necessitated assimilation". I wondered, after moving to a new country, is assimilation a voluntary, mandatory, or automatic and completely subconscious process? Is it easier for some but nor for others? Is the process the same for everyone? Arakelova also says that the "Yezidis have always been well adapted but never integrated"...then where do we draw the line between adaptation and integration? Isn't the one one part of the other?

The special report on the folk healers of a Mexican market talked about spiritual waters, sprays, and other items of metaphysical nature. For some reason, reading about the manifold of waters sprays, charms, perfumes, stones, ... reminded me of the discussion we had about ADD, ADS, or whatever else it is called. Is traditional medicine used as well as a money making business? Who purchases these items? Locals because they believe in their ability to cure of visitors to take home as gifts? The report also raised another aspect that struck me, that also came through in the Kim piece: it seems like if people are financially stable, they do prefer to go see westernized doctors, although their tradition teaches/tells them some somethings else. On the one hand this could have made sense to me when Kim talks about the Korean elderly who have spent up to 30 years in the US, but then on the other hand we find the same thing within Mexicans living in Mexico? Does that mean they did not believe in alternative medicine from the beginning, or was biomedicine forced on them so strongly that they now believe in it blindly?

I think one f the most interesting pieces to me this week was Wayland's article on medicinal plants and physician's believes in their healing powers. I had so far never thought about that the people in power could also be the people 'not in power' at the same time, depending on the context they are in. I can somewhat understand how a doctor wants to please and help his patients to the best of his knowledge (then again, how do we know what the best of our knowledge is...) and also include traditional healing methods if they wish. Don't you have to believe in those healing powers to a certain degree in order to agree with your patients on a certain treatment routine? But then, on the other side of the metal, as a doctor you want to look good among your colleagues so then you deny your believes in traditional medicine?

Last but not least, I had this somewhat crazy thought while reading, but maybe it isn't that crazy after all, you tell me: what if there was a plant/traditional treatment for every disease there will ever be in this world, we just haven't discovered them all yet. So I am not talking about chemical medications, but plant based ones. From reading Wayland and other readings, it seems that biomedicine is pushed onto everybody as the unique and one and only healing method. What if, now here it comes, the ones in power found out about this so they now much their 'crappy' meds onto everybody until we all believe this is the way to go and no one cares about plant/traditional healing any more. So then we have way to many plants that no one will use any more and here come the people in power again to 'relive' us from this overgrowth of plants...charging only small amounts because of 'old friendships'...in the end, they are holding in their hands the ultimate healing power that we paid for them to take and we sit there with the stuff that only works so so. Kind of similar than shipping old books to Africa because we don't have any use for them any more and at the same time making them believe that this is what they have to go by. Far fetched? You tell me!

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