chapter  5
30 Pages

Making sense out of modernity

ByMarina Roseman

A banner year for medical anthropology, 1976 heralded the publication of two seminal volumes dedicated to the study of the medical systems of complex Asian societies. Charles Leslie’s edited volume Asian Medical Systems, fruit of a 1971 conference sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, articulated a fresh and distinctly anthropological approach to the study of illness and health. In his introduction, Leslie (1976b) set forth a series of basic tenets that would become paradigmatic for subsequent scholarship in medical anthropology. Leslie’s introduction argued and volume articles demonstrated that, like medical systems elsewhere, each Asian medical system “consists of beliefs and practices connected by an underlying logic and each is underpinned by a coherent network of assumptions about pathophysiology, therapeutics, and so forth” (Leslie and Young 1992: 4). Asian medical practices, recognized as logically integrated systems, were grounded in the specificity of local practices, historically situated, and dynamically evolving.