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Conference on Mind and Body

Jun 26, 2012

"Asymmetrical Translations - Mind and Body in European and Indian Medicine" is the title of a conference that was held from June 26 to 28 at Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg (IWH). It was organised by research project C3 "Mind and Body".

The conference looked at both European and Asian healing systems and the flows of ideas and practices within and amongst those systems that produce theoretical, practical, pedagogical, economic, aesthetic and other asymmetries. The biomedical division of labor is inherently asymmetrical, such that the healing disciplines focusing on "the body" have more prestige and more resources than those focused on "the mind," while the "spiritual" dimension of healing falls outside the matrix of legitimate (scientific) therapy altogether, being relegated to the (non-scientific) realm of "religion". This division of labor, together with the consolidation of the healing disciplines as part of global processes of professionalization, 'materialization', and industrialization (pharmaceuticalization), inaugurates and produces Asian medical practice as the 'other' of biomedicine, which then returns to Europe where it is 'integrated' into the health system as a type of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine).

The programme was divided into three thematic fields: 1) The sciences of the mind such as psychiatry and psychology; 2) The traditional South Asian health disciplines (like Ayurveda, Siddha etc.) and 3) The Un-disciplined purveyors of health (e. g. streetside-sellers of folk medicine). Among the participants were members of Heidelberg University's Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe" (Ananda Samir Chopra, William Sax, Johannes Quack) as well as researchers from Germany and Europe (Gabi Alex, Ritika Ganguly, Stefan Reichmuth, Michi Knecht, Claudia Lang), India (Amitranjan Basu, Tina Chakravarty, Harish Naraindas, Roman Sieler) and the USA (Projit Mukharji). The conference was organised by research project C3 "Mind and Body".


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  • Ayurvedic Pharmacy in India (source: wikimedia)