ARI Working Paper Series
WPS 251 Coping with Illness and its Uncertainties in Rakhine (Myanmar): An Anthropological Study of a Pluralistic Therapeutic Field
Publisher : Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Publication Date : May / 2016
Author/Speaker: Céline CODEREY
Keywords : therapeutic pluralism, power relations, lacking health system, accessibility, health seeking process, uncertainty, Myanmar

Based on fieldwork conducted among the Buddhist population living in Rakhine State (western Myanmar) since 2005, this paper elucidates how people understand health and ill-health and how they deal with them as well as with the uncertainty related to them by relying on conceptions and practices originated from Buddhism, astrology, spirit cult, indigenous medicine and Western medicine. I argue that although some of the components of this therapeutic pluralism occupy an higher position than others – whether because they are formally recognised or because they are attributed an higher value – they are in some ways lacking and it’s only the combination with the other components which grant – at least ideally – the maintenance of the individual, social and cosmic harmony on which people’s health depends. Navigating between medical and religious anthropology, this paper aims to question the boundaries between the religious and medical, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, worldly and otherworldy, and natural and supernatural.