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“Accept and utilize”: alternative medicine, minimality, and ethics in an Indonesian healing collective

Long, Nicholas J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4088-1661 (2019) “Accept and utilize”: alternative medicine, minimality, and ethics in an Indonesian healing collective. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 33 (3). pp. 327-344. ISSN 0745-5194

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Identification Number: 10.1111/maq.12448


Cosmopolitan forms of “alternative medicine” have become very popular in contemporary Indonesia. Many healers have trained in an eclectic range of techniques, predicated on ontological claims so diverse that they call each other’s legitimacy into question. This article explores how a collective of alternative healers in Central Java navigated the quandaries presented by such therapeutic eclecticism over a six-year period. Healers’ engagement with, or indifference towards, the principles underpinning therapeutic efficacy fluctuated in ways that allowed them to surmount the dilemmas of Islamization, the changing demographic of their collective’s membership, and the threat of commercialization, thereby maintaining a medical landscape in which alternative healing was widely available and accessible. Transformations in their understanding, experience and practice of healing should thus be understood in terms of how enduring ethical commitments are refracted through ongoing engagements with a changing social world.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 American Anthropological Association
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2018 11:16
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 23:14
Projects: RES-000-22-4632
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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