Borders and Healers
With an Afterword by Steven Feierman

Borders and Healers

Brokering Therapeutic Resources in Southeast Africa
Edited by Tracy J. Luedke and Harry G. West
Distribution: World
Publication date: 1/10/2006
ISBN: 978-0-253-02766-5
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In southeast Africa, the power to heal is often associated with crossing borders, whether literal or metaphorical. This wide-ranging volume reveals that healers, whose power depends on the ability to broker therapeutic resources, also contribute to the construction of the borders they transgress. While addressing diverse healing practices such as herbalism, razor-blade vaccination, spirit possession, prophetic healing, missionary health clinics, and traumatic storytelling, the nine lively and provocative essays in Borders and Healers explore the creativity and resilience of the region’s healers and those they heal in a world shaped by economic stagnation, declining state commitments to health care, and the AIDS pandemic. This important book contributes to understandings of the ways in which healing practices in southeast Africa mediate divides between the wealthy and the impoverished, the traditional and the modern, the local and the global.

Author Bio

Tracy J. Luedke is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Northeastern Illinois University.

Harry G. West is lecturer in Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is author of Kupilikula: Governance and the Invisible Realm in Mozambique.


". . . serves as an excellent regional anthology . . . but also valuably and originally extends this literature." —Journal of Southern African Studies

"Well-written, thought-provoking, and grounded in fieldwork, this volume is written for anthropologists and will also be useful for public health professionals. . . . it will be invaluable for those teaching upper-level undergraduate or graduate courses on African health, and for anthropologists interested in therapeutic pluralism and theories of healing." —American Anthropologist

". . . Luedke and West’s book does indeed raise important issues; that in itself is what animates these concerns, and makes the book very interesting reading." —Karen Flint, UNC-Charlotte, African Studies Review , 51, 3 Dec. 2008

". . . this is a diverse set of ethnographic accounts that provides some rich insights into the work which goes on around the boundaries of 'traditional healing'." —Hannah Brown, University of Manchester,
Jrnl Royal Anthropological Inst JRAI , Vol. 14.3 Sept. 2008

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Healing Divides: Therapeutic Border Work in Southeast Africa Harry G. West and Tracy J. Luedke
1. Working the Borders to Beneficial Effect: The Not-So-Indigenous Knowledge of Not-So-Traditional Healers in Northern Mozambique Harry G. West
2. Presidents, Bishops, and Mothers: The Construction of Authority in Mozambican Healing Tracy J. Luedke
3. Of Markets and Medicine: The Changing Significance of Zimbabwean Muti in the Age of Intensified Globalization David Simmons
4. Money, Modernity, and Morality: Traditional Healing and the Expansion of the Holy Spirit in Mozambique James Pfeiffer
5. Transnational Images of Pentecostal Healing: Comparative Examples from Malawi and Botswana Rijk van Dijk
6. From HIV/AIDS to Ukimwi: Narrating Local Accounts of a Cure Julian M. Murchison
7. Geographies of Medicine: Interrogating the Boundary between "Traditional" and "Modern" Medicine in Colonial Tanganyika Stacey Langwick
8. Shifting Geographies of Suffering and Recovery: Traumatic Storytelling after Apartheid Christopher J. Colvin
Afterword: Ethnographic Regions—Healing, Power, and History Steven Feierman
References Cited