The Vagaries of Therapeutic Globalization. Fame, Money and Social Relations in Tibetan Medicine

Laurent Pordié


Studies of the international diffusion of Asian medicine tend to overlook the social mechanisms involved in the transnational circulation of therapists. This article, built around the biography of a female practitioner of Tibetan medicine, demonstrates that upward social mobility gained through individual involvement in the NGO sector allows for the mobilization of transnational networks which sometimes offer travel opportunities in return. In the Himalayan region of Ladakh, the main reason that practitioners travel the world is through projects aiming to improve the local conditions of Tibetan medicine. Contrary to common assumptions, these journeys abroad do not primarily consolidate social status, economic capital and medical legitimacy for Asian medical practitioners; they also bring in their wake ambivalence in individual status.This is because, in the cultural context of Ladakh, gaining fame and money too rapidly or too visibly is seen as deeply problematic. This article examines these tensions and opens up research paths on the social logics and local implications of both regional development and therapeutic globalization.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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