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Health Studies
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Denis Maxwell

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HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Week #6: Feminization and Marginalization? – By Mary Cameron  This article explores the indirect link between Ayurveda‘s feminization and its marginalization in relation to modern biomedicine, which may evolve to become more direct and consequential for women‘s health in the country Gender and Medical Transformation  Does biomedical modernity compress indigenous medical plurality which consequentially impacts people‘s gendered experiences of medicine  This article takes up the question of gender and medical transformation in Nepal through the experiences of women Ayurvedic doctors who achieve high professional status in a patriarchal society and who increasingly encounter biomedicine. This was done via years of ethnographic research with formally trained (as opposed to informally trained who usually apprenticed in some manner) women Ayurvedic doctors.  This piece looks at three main contexts – medical education and training of female doctors, their unique capability to heal female patients and the ways they enculturate medicoscience practices.  Four main points that she wishes to develop regarding medical transformation and gender o Medical authority of female doctors crosses paths with women‘s historical and traditional role of subordinate, this contravenes social and culturally instilled features of femininity in the culture  Women patients‘ preference for female patients empowers on one hand and strategies on the other  Marginalization of female doctors and increased feminization of Ayurveda may have contributed to the diminishing status of its practice in Nepal o Does growing feminization of Ayurveda lead to its diminished status OR does its diminished status lead to its feminization?  Personal satisfaction and social power women doctors derive from caring of health needs of women and their strong belief in the efficacy of Ayurveda are important motivations of women‘s professional choice  Increased encouragement or acceptance of higher education for women  Decreasing status of Ayurveda is due to political economy of health care development – international donors favor biomedicine o The very qualities that make Ayurveda ―inferior‖ to biomedicine is what brings female healers and patients together  Non invasive, low technology diagnostic techniques  Low cots  More culturally relevant medical exchange  Essential features: pulse reading, humoral evaluation, use of plants as medicines o Potential sites of medical and social transformation related to the gendered dimensions of health care suggest areas that should receive attention by those advocating plural medical system that benefit women‘s health  Ethnographic research details social and medical context of the implications of health care modernization of nonbiomedical practices and specifically the impact on women  1998-2005 Nepal – Rural and Urban Feminist Insights on Science and Medicine: Cross-cultural Applications HLTC02 WINTER 2013  Feminist scholars of Western Science have greatly advanced our understanding of gender and modern scientific ideology  Evelyn Fox Keller & Helen Longio – gendered ontology of scientific language  Emily Martin: language of gender embedded in medical textbooks  The analysis provided here is greatly informed by Donna Haraway‘s (1989) and Sandra Harding‘s (1993) calls for an objectivity that is situated and embodied, and one that produces knowledge that aims for reliable accounts of things by including multiple perspectives from specialists and nonspecialists alike. We see at work in the Nepal Ayurveda case a non-Western affirmation of Harding‘s and Haraway‘s (and many others‘) critiques of Euro-Western scientific methodology; paralleling Western knowledge production, South Asian society that is gender, caste, and age stratified has typically marginalized knowledge from the bottom.  Ayurveda‘s is becoming officially marginalized by authorities at the top, and feminization may be contributing to this  Multiple subjectivities, rather than discreet monolithic subjects, emerge when we consider who or what controls and defines the identity of individuals, social groups, nations, and cultures.  Scholars from anthropology, philosophy, and history have systematically identified elitist, sexist, and objectifying practices of Euro-American science and bio- medical institutions.  One of three platonic premises o Every genuine question has exactly one true answer, all others being false; the method that leads to correct solutions is rational in character and identical in all fields; and solutions are true universally, for all times and for all people Becoming Doctors  Women have been part of indigenous Ayurvedic medicine‘s evolution and practice for at least the past century in South Asia, and the number of women formally trained in both Ayurveda and biomedicine has steadily increased with the acceptance of women‘s higher education  Ayurvedic doctors use theories such as panchakarma  This article focuses on the institutional and lineage-trained Ayurvedic Doctors (baidya) – limited to those who have formal higher education Medical Modernization  Ayurvedic medical education and management in Nepal are products of modern health care transformation o Female professional doctors integrated into formal state and developed organizations often funded by international donors in the West that preferred a biomedical model to medicine and health; leads to complex relationship with the state that differentiates their relationship with Western Biomedicine compared to nonformally trained Ayurvedic peers; perpetuates notion that biomedicine superior indigenous, irrational and potentially dangerous healing system o Other modern influences that have diminished status of Ayurveda – proliferation of allopathic drugs, the government‘s greater support of biomedical education, the loss of medicinal plants through environmental degradation and illegal exportation, and escalating Indian influence over the export of Himalayan medicinal plants HLTC02 WINTER 2013 o Feminization of Ayurveda with more female physicians and patients is causing the declining status of it as well as the political economy of health care development which is privileging biomedicine over it Unconventional Marriage  Case Study: Dr. Laxi Pradhan o One of the first two female Ayurvedic doctors educated in Nepal, started at 17; finished in 1971 o Conventional patrilocal marital arrangement unsuited to her educational goals; formal education is often discontinued o Daughter in Laws have a low status in Nepali life and expected t
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