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Global Movements, Local Concerns

Medicine and Health in Southeast Asia

edited by Laurence Monnais and Harold J. Cook

The development of medicine in Southeast Asia over the past two centuries has not been a simple imposition of European scientific medicine, but a complex and negotiated process that drew on Southeast Asian health experts, local medical traditions, and changing national and popular expectations. The contributors to this volume show how the practices of health in Southeast Asia over the past two centuries were mediated by local medical traditions, colonial interests, governments and policies, international interventions, and by a wide range of health agents and intermediaries. Their findings call into question many of the claims based on medicalization and biopolitics that treat change as a process of rupture. While governments, both colonial and national, used their powers to institute policies that affected large numbers of people, much healthcare remained rooted in a more interactive and locally-mediated experience, in which tradition, adaptation and hybridization is as important as innovation and conflict. "Semi-subaltern" Western-trained doctors adn varied traditional healers, many of them women, were among the cultural brokers involved in the building of healthcare systems, and helped circulate mixed practices and ideas about medicine and health even as they found their place in new professional and social hierarchies in an era of globalization.

Published by: NUS Press Pte Ltd

Half Title, Title and Copyright page

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pp. v-vi

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. vii

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pp. viii-xxxi

Southeast Asia is both diverse and vast, composed of thousands of islands as well as a continental landmass stretching south from China, and with a long history of population movements and human exchanges. In terms of geographic mass, continental Southeast Asia is as big as Europe or South Asia, and if we include the islands, it is far larger, without forgetting ...

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Chapter 1: The Real Expedicion de la Vacuna and the Philippines, 1803-1807

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pp. 1-23

The Real Expedición de la Vacuna of 1803–1807, headed by Dr. Francisco Xavier Balmis, has not received the attention it so richly deserves, especially its final leg reaching into Asia. The Expedition’s significance has perhaps been best expressed by the Venezuelan medical historian Ricardo Archila in his 1969 monograph La Expedición de Balmis en Venezuela, in which he ...

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Chapter 2: The Nguyen Initiative to Acquire Vaccinia, 1820-1821

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pp. 24-42

For at least two millennia before the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated, in 1980, the disease adversely affected the physical health of individuals as well as the economic health of entire communities throughout Eurasia. In response to this major threat to good health, medical practitioners and religious figures in many different societies developed ...

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Chapter 3: Wats and Worms: The Activities of the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Board in Southeast Asia (1913-1940)

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pp. 43-61

Staged against an exoticized backdrop of Thailand, this report by the representatives of the Rockefeller Foundation’s (RF) International Health Board (IHB) would have captivated their directors’ imaginations at New York City. Between the 1910s to the outbreak of the Second World War, the Board ...

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Chapter 4: The 1937 Bandung Conference on Rural Hygiene: Toward a New Vision of Healthcare?

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pp. 62-80

“I don’t believe I am wrong when I say that it was probably the first time a governmental Conference in the East was able to face the problems of social medicine directly, including some rather difficult ones.”1 In a speech delivered in 1938, Dr. Ludwig Rajchman, director of the League of Nations Health Organization (LNHO), accurately emphasized the novelty of the meeting ...

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Chapter 5: Science, Sex, and Superstition: Midwifery in 19th-Century Philippines

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pp. 81-103

In 1859, a drawing of a traditional Filipino midwife, or hilot, appeared in Ilustración Filipina, a Spanish-language periodical published in Manila (Figure 5.1). The drawing seems innocuous enough: the hilot, named as Ñora Goya (an abbreviation of Señora Gregoria), is depicted as an old, slightly hunchbacked woman with wizened hands. A rosary and scapulars ...

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Chapter 6: Dokter Djawa and Dukun: Perceptions of Indigenous Western-Trained Doctors about Traditional Healers in the Dutch East Indies around 1900

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pp. 104-126

“It goes without saying that their knowledge of the illnesses they treat is very inadequate, with the consequence that they massage in an incoherent fashion without carefully assessing if there are medical reasons to do so.”2 In this way, Soeriadarma, a locally-born and Western-trained physician (dokter djawa), voiced his opinion about traditional healers, the so called dukun, in his article ...

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Chapter 7: Torn between Economics, Public Health and Chinese Nationalism: The Anti-Opium Campaign of Colonial Malaya, c. 1890s-1941

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pp. 127-149

Opium is a reddish-brown, heavy-scented addictive drug prepared from the extracted juice of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Opium’s properties afford a soothing, stupefying feeling, offering a respite to victims of chronic pain or depression or individuals needing to “escape” everyday realities, making opium a valued commodity. In medicine, opium is used as an analgesic and narcotic. ...

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Chapter 8: Hanoi in the Time of Cholera: Epidemic Disease and Racial Power in the Colonial City

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pp. 150-170

In French-ruled Hanoi, as in many other colonies, the colonial state’s healthcare policies played a central role in the construction of the colonial order.1 The white colonizers were perpetually anxious about the state of their health and the omnipresent threat of tropical disease. Hanoi’s busy hospitals and graveyards darkened the white experience in the city.2 ...

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Chapter 9: HIV/AIDS Epidemic and the Politics of Access to Medicines in Thailand: A Study of the Health Impact of Globalization

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pp. 171-206

The devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic is the most serious public health crisis of the 21st century.1 Following its catastrophic spread in sub-Saharan Africa, the infected population in South and Southeast Asia has rapidly increased since the late 1980s. It is estimated that there were 7.8 million people living with HIV/AIDS in this region in 2006, compared to 24.7 million ...

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Chapter 10: A Revolutionary Movement to Bring Traditional Medicine Back to the Grassroots Level: On the Biopolitization of Herbal Medicine in Vietnam

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pp. 207-225

Traditional medicine is a very recent invention. In Vietnam, before there was traditional medicine, there was southern medicine (thuốc nam), and before that, there was Chinese or northern medicine (thuốc bắc). Today, there is Eastern medicine (Đông y) or “our medicine” (thuốc ta) as opposed to Western medicine (thuốc tây), but there is also northern and ...

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Chapter 11: Medicine and Public Health in Thai Historiography: From an Elitist View to Counter-Hegemonic Discourse

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pp. 226-245

Thai historiographies seldom feature the subject of medicine, nor science and technology in general. While traditional Thai accounts, such as chronicles (phongsawadan) and legends (tamnan), were respectively concerned mainly with dynastic and Buddhist religious narratives, modern Thai history has been occupied with the stories of states, politics and the nobility.1 ...


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pp. 246-275


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pp. 276-279


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pp. 280-290

E-ISBN-13: 9789971696900
Print-ISBN-13: 9789971696399

Page Count: 324
Illustrations: 3 images, 5 tables

Edition: New