Cambodians and Their Doctors: A Medical Anthropology of Colonial and Post-Colonial Cambodia
by Jan Ovesen and Ing-Britt Trankell
At face value, this book is about medicine in Cambodia over the last hundred years. At the same time, however, by using 'medicine' (in the sense of ideas, practices and institutions relating to health and illness) as a prism through which to view colonial and post-colonial Cambodian society more generally, it offers an historical and contemporary anthropology of the nation of Cambodia. Rich in ethnographic detail derived from both contemporary anthropological fieldwork and colonial archival material, the study is an account of the simultaneous presence in Cambodia of two medical traditions: the modern, biomedical one first introduced by the French colonial power at the turn of the twentieth century, and the indigenous Khmer health cosmology. In their reliance on one or the other of the two traditions, to a large extent the Khmer people have been concerned to find efficient medical treatment that also adheres to social norms (not least the emphasis on the morality of social relations). This concern is also evident in the prevailing medical pluralism in Cambodia today. The authors trace the interaction (and lack thereof) between these two traditions from the French colonial period via the political upheavals of the 1970s through to the present day. The result is more than a medical anthropology; this is a key text that also makes a significant contribution to the anthropological study of Cambodian society at large and will be an important resource for development planners and aid workers in medical and related fields.
"It is refreshing, in a time when the disciplines are becoming ever more entrenched, to find a study that proudly extends its focus from the present into the past." - Trude Jacobsen, Northern Illinois University, South East Asia Research, Vol. 22, No. 4, December 2014
Jan Ovesen and Ing-Britt Trankell are associate professors of anthropology at Uppsala University. They have been engaged in the study of Cambodian society since 1995.
Publication year: 2010
322 pp / 229mm x 152mm
21 figures, 6 tables
ISBN: 978-87-7694-058-4, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-057-7, Hardback