After reading the work of Darby and Svoboda (2007) on genital mutilation and Hahn and Kleinman (1983) on the connectedness between belief and body, as well as in evaluating the ways in which I’ve been witness to the impact of culture on medical reality, it seems evermore evident to me now the ways in which one’s wider culture can come to profoundly affect what one knows and thinks about health. What does "sickness" mean? How are the mind and body connected in a way that can promote or deter healing? Consequentially, how might my answers to these questions fit into the larger order of power, agency, and resistance present within my cultural environment? It is in the negotiation of a space and appreciation for multiple answers to these questions that a critical-cultural approach to health values.
My personal background as a white female from rural Indiana situates me within a realm of conservative Western medical perspectives. Here, the normality of medicine is often determined by its acceptance within broader social constructions of what is “appropriate” to do with the body that God has graciously given you. In normative fashion, health is standardized such that deviation from any socially-determined “normal” belief or action set forth by a particular community is viewed in a negative light. Female genital mutilation is one example that fits these criteria, as such a “deviant” action would likely show, in this cultural boundary, a lack of appreciation towards the well-crafted body God provided.
In being reflexive, I am able to position myself while also being mindful of the ways in which my culture has and will continue to impact my views of medical reality and the conclusions I draw. These may differ greatly from the views put forward by different cultures. In this, I appreciate how knowing and valuing culture bring richness to understanding health. It is unfortunate that such cultural, epistemological, and ontological perspectives are rarely made explicit, especially in academic spaces.