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Book on Therapeutic Boundaries

03. Jul. 2014

"Asymmetrical Conversations - Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries" is a new book edited by Prof. Harish Naraindas and the two Cluster members Dr. Johannes Quack and Prof. William S. Sax.

Ideas about health are reinforced by institutions and their corresponding practices, such as donning a patient's gown in a hospital or prostrating before a healing shrine. Even though we are socialized into regarding such ideologies as "natural" and unproblematic, we sometimes seek to bypass, circumvent, or even transcend the dominant ideologies of our cultures as they are manifested in the institutions of health care. The contributors to this volume describe such contestations and circumventions of health ideologies, and the blurring of therapeutic boundaries, on the basis of case studies from India, the South Asian Diaspora, and Europe, focusing on relations between body, mind, and spirit in a variety of situations. The result is not always the "live and let live" medical pluralism that is described in the literature.


  • Introduction: Entangled Epistemes Harish Naraindas, Johannes Quack & William Sax
  • Chapter 1. Medicines of the Imagination: Cultural Phenomenology, Medical Pluralism and the Persistence of Mind-Body Dualism Laurence J. Kirmayer
  • Chapter 2. Porous Dividuals? Complying to a Healing Temple (Balaji) and a Psychiatric Out-patient Department (OPD) Johannes Quack
  • Chapter 3. Medical Individualism and the Dividual Person Francis Zimmermann
  • Chapter 4. My Vaidya and my Gynecologist: Agency, Authority and Risk in Quest of a Child Harish Naraindas
  • Chapter 5. Davaa and Duaa: Negotiating Psychiatry and Ritual Healing of Madness Helene Basu
  • Chapter 6. A Healing Practice in Kerala William Sax and Hari Bhaskar
  • Chapter 7. Ayurveda in Britain: The Twin Imperatives of Professionalisation and Spiritual Seeking Maya Warrier
  • Notes on Contributors

The book "Asymmetrical Conversations - Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries" was published as part of the series "Epistemologies of Healing" in May 2014.

Harish Naraindas is Visiting Professor of Heidelberg University's South Asia Institute. Johannes Quack is Emmy Noether-Research Group Leader at the Goethe-University Frankfurt and a former Cluster member. William Sax is Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology, South Asia Institute, and Principal Investigator of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" at Heidelberg University.


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