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INSTITUTIONALIZED ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IN NORTH INDIA: PLURALITY, LEGITIMACY, AND NATIONALIST DISCOURSES

Khalikova, Venera (2017) INSTITUTIONALIZED ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IN NORTH INDIA: PLURALITY, LEGITIMACY, AND NATIONALIST DISCOURSES. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This dissertation examines state-sanctioned medical pluralism in contemporary India by focusing on seven codified non-biomedical traditions: Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa, and Homeopathy, officially known under the acronym AYUSH. Informed by ethnographic work in Uttarakhand, North India, I explore therapeutic practices and narratives of AYUSH practitioners in relation to government policy and public discourses on alternative medicine. This work puts forward four major arguments. First, although the Indian government delineates different AYUSH modalities from one another as well as from biomedicine and uncodified local health traditions, in reality AYUSH practitioners frequently engage in treatments that fall outside their state-sanctioned area of expertise. For example, a doctor of Homeopathy can integrate elements of Ayurveda, biomedicine, numerology, and religious healing.
Second, despite state legitimation and a purportedly equal governmental support, AYUSH traditions occupy unequal positions, among which Ayurveda has emerged as the most socially, ideologically, and financially privileged. Based on the analysis of statistics, doctors’ narratives, policy documents, and the rhetoric and activities of an extraordinarily popular guru Ramdev, I argue that medical plurality in India is increasingly “ayurvedicalized.”
Third, the hierarchy of medical traditions in India is reinforced through the debates about what and who constitute the nation. Within these discourses, Ayurveda has been promoted as the only homegrown and authentically Indian tradition. Hence, I argue that the paradox between the state legitimation of medical plurality and a hegemonic position of Ayurveda is embedded in the tension between two opposing nationalist ideologies: the ideology of inclusive nationalism anchored in the Nehruvian principle of unity in diversity and the ideology of Hindu nationalism.
Finally, by scrutinizing how exactly Ayurveda is promoted by guru Ramdev, I reveal moralizing discourses that invoke citizens’ duty (seva) to the nation which encourage them to consume Ayurvedic products in order to improve their personal health, contribute to national economy, and honor the ancient Vedic sages. Building on theorizations of biopower and biomorality, this dissertation evinces that the promotion of Ayurveda has become a bio-moral project which weds consumerist desires with Hindu nationalist sentiment.


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Details

Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Khalikova, Veneravenera.khalikova@pitt.eduvrk70000-0002-6530-6866
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAlter, Josephjsalter@pitt.edu
Committee MemberMusante, KathleenKathleen.Musante@pitt.edu
Committee MemberBrown, Laural.c.brown@pitt.edu
Committee MemberJohnstone, Barbarabj4@andrew.cmu.edu
Centers: University Centers > University Center for International Studies (UCIS) > Asian Studies Center
Date: 27 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 April 2017
Approval Date: 27 September 2017
Submission Date: 1 August 2017
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 321
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: medical pluralism, traditional medicine, nationalism, Ayurveda, Yoga, India
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2017 23:19
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2017 23:19
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/32955

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