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ERIC Number: ED532651
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 263
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-9527-7
Ayurveda in the Age of Biomedicine: Discursive Asymmetries and Counter-Strategies
Wolfgram, Matthew S.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan
Since the beginning of the British colonial enterprise in India the representation of the relationship between Western biomedicine and Ayurveda has been based on a fundamental epistemological asymmetry. However much Ayurveda was represented in Orientalist literature as accurate, poetic, useful, scholarly, or interesting, it could never occupy with authority the privileged place of the scientific that was central to the rhetoric of colonial rationality. In postcolonial India the practice of Ayurveda, its textual and intellectual production, socialization, treatment, public health education, scientific debate, research, and pharmaceutical commerce, all take place in the shadow of this biomedical hegemony. This dissertation analyzes the historical contingencies of this asymmetry, its instantiation in the discursive practices of contemporary Ayurveda practitioners, and the counter-strategies developed and deployed in the context of Ayurveda's scientific modernization and institutionalization. First, I describe the textual codification of this asymmetrical disciplinary alignment in the genre of British colonial compendia of materia medica, and the efforts of anti-colonial apologists to regiment the two disciplines as separate yet equal approaches to a unified human body, an ideology which I call "medical parallelism." Next, I describe the social effects of this ideology at Ayurveda institutions in Kerala, focusing in particular on how Ayurveda's disciplinary boundaries are organized by practices of pedagogy, displays of expertise, and scientific debate. Lastly, I describe the current transformations of Ayurveda's disciplinary boundaries through the commodification and globalization of Ayurveda drugs. My analysis throughout the dissertation focuses on the production, ideologization, and institutionalization of discursive action, which I argue, effect the stabilization of the function of linguistic reference as a medium of ideological signs. This stabilization of ideological reference, I argue, is a semiotic condition of the macro-historical processes of Ayurveda's modernization, institutionalization, and commodification. Thus, this dissertation demonstrates an approach to history that centers on the discourse-pragmatic underpinnings of large-scale social change. In the conclusion of this dissertation I address this discourse-pragmatic analysis of Ayurveda's postcolonial history to the challenge of formulating a critical discourse of modernity that can account for the diversity of the kinds of experiences and historical processes often glossed as "modernization." [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: India