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Holistic and integrative medicine

In this cluster, we are focused on the historical, anthropological, and philological dimensions of holistic health and medical systems in transnational context, including uses of integrative medicine in biomedical settings in the US, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in China and N America, Unani and Ayurvedic medicine in India, practices of holistic health drinks and supplements, spiritualism online (#Witchesofinstagram), and more. We’re interested in the transnational uses of these practices, including how they travel online. How do therapeutic epistemologies and materia medica get reconfigured over time and space? How are they medicalized, or transformed from household uses into more clinical techniques, and what are the implications of those shifts? 


Biomedicine is, in many respects, historically descendent from traditional medical systems, and in many communities worldwide there is no clear dividing line between the two. This challenges prevailing assumptions or attempts to maintain a binary of biomedical vs. traditional medicine. Yet, many practitioners see a clear and separate “origin” and "heritage" of particular systems. What role do such claims play in the shaping of health experiences among patients, communities, and countries? 


In this lab cluster, we engage ethnographically with a range of healers, scientists, patients, and publics. We are especially interested in uses of holistic health, at home and in school settings, and emerging ideas about "self care." As practices of self diagnosis and treatment proliferate online, what new epistemologies and relationships are apparent?  What is consistent with prior trends in "self reliance" including, for example, New Age movements of the 1920s or 1960s. In this cluster, our lab is thinking about new and old modalities of holistic health, and the ways those shape people’s lived experiences and social worlds. 

  Publications/ Research in Progress

Anna Wood's Blog

Tyentyen Chen's Blog

Jaya Singh's Blog

Grace Kellogg's Blog


Bright, Kristin. 1997. “Cool, Cool Beverage: Globalization, Unani Medicine, and the Cultural Logic of Thirst.” Seminar Magazine, May 1-7, 453.

Bright, Kristin. 2012. “Traditional Cupping Therapy in Unani and Chinese Medicine.” Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health. S. Loue & M. Sajatovic, eds. Springer. 

Bright, Kristin. 2015. “Love in the Time of Cancer: Kinship, Memory, Migration and Other Logics of Care.” Anthropologies of Cancer in Transnational Worlds. H. Mathews, N. Burke & E. Kampriani, eds. Routledge.

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