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The Ambivalent Promise of Integrative Medicine: Reforming Integration Discourse and Practices

Hoover, Kimberly (2021) The Ambivalent Promise of Integrative Medicine: Reforming Integration Discourse and Practices. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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“The Ambivalent Promise of Integrative Medicine: Reforming Integration Discourse & Practices” aligns with feminist, anti-colonial aims by interrogating the power that vested stakeholders have to influence national and global narratives about healing, and therefore, who gets to decide what is worth integrating into the US healthcare system(s). The National Institute of Health’s definition of Integrative Medicine (IM) implies that underlying beliefs about holistic health and illness, regardless of their cultural origin, can be compatible with Western medicine, but only if those “alternative” therapies pass the same scientific scrutiny of Biomedicine. I argue, however, for the need to reform common distinctions between “Western” and “alternative” medicine(s), to expose which dominant ways of knowing are reinforced through this naming, as well as whose practices and philosophies are elided or appropriated in the process.
As a practitioner and student of holistic medicine, I necessarily reflect on my subjectivity as a researcher, which I address through Constructivist Grounded Theory. I also deploy rhetorical analysis and theorization, which allows me to consider the systemic impact of IM discourse and practices, including the perspectives of local IM specialists I interviewed for this project. By analyzing local and inter/national IM discourse (e.g., World Health Organization and National Institute of Health) and respective material processes, I show that current IM models re-produce pre-existing constraints for healthcare consumers that IM often claims rhetorically to resolve. My chapters investigate whether current IM processes can enact sites of intersectional, anti-colonial feminist resistance, and whether ontological integration of not just disparate practices but disparate healing ontologies is possible. Ultimately, I argue that IM encounters should be reformed through a conception of agential realist ritual, which would mitigate or resolve many of the limitations of Biomedicine that IM subtly reproduces.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCarr,
Committee CoChairPitts,
Committee MemberKuchinskaya,
Committee MemberHolding,
Date: 3 May 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 April 2021
Approval Date: 3 May 2021
Submission Date: 8 April 2021
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 210
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: feminism, anti-colonialism, integrative medicine
Date Deposited: 03 May 2021 14:59
Last Modified: 03 May 2022 05:15

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