The Internationalisation and Hybridization of Medicines in Perspective? Some Reflections and Comparisons between East and West
AbstractDuring the four last decades, Asian medical and religious systems have poured into and become rooted in Western societies. The visibility of “Asian” or Asian-inspired practices and beliefs – whether therapeutic or not – epitomizes a wide-scale phenomenon, one that some authors, like Campbell (1999) have called an “easternization” of the West. However, the spread and rooting of Asian medical systems in the West parallels to another global process: the spread of Western medicine in Asian countries. Drawing on fieldwork, conducted on the Buddhist milieu in France and in Sherpa villages of Northern Nepal, this article attempts to highlight, in a comparative way, three different issues: the social determinants of “health” and uses of medical systems in these two different contexts, the conditions and modes of adaptation of foreign medical systems in new settlings, and the acculturative processes that are observable for the same medical systems, in two dissimilar environments. The discussion aims for a reconsideration of Campbell’s theory, after Dawson, and offers a critical examination of a similar and parallel process: the “westernization” of Asian medicines.