"“Traditional medicine” has recently emerged from a highly marginalized position in many parts of the world to become a rapidly expanding and highly innovative multi-billion dollar global industry. However, despite growing academic, economic and public interest in the “traditional” pharmaceutical industry, we know little about its larger dynamics, shape, and wider socio-economic and public health implications. The proposed 5-year interdisciplinary study of the emergent transnational Tibetan medicine (or “Sowa Rigpa”) industry in India, China, Mongolia and Bhutan aims to fill this gap.
The Sowa Rigpa industry, in which Tibetan medicine is transformed into a mass-produced commodity for domestic and international markets, is a particularly illustrative and timely case of ""traditional"" medicine's development. It is illustrative because it reflects the dynamics of the traditional pharma industry at large, and it is timely because Tibetan medicine’s industrialization and pharmaceuticalization has only begun during the last decade, enabling this study to investigate its formation in real time.
Introducing the concept of the pharmaceutical assemblage,the proposed project will break new ground by being the first comprehensive, large-scale, interdisciplinary study of Sowa Rigpa in a transnational context. It will apply an innovative interdisciplinary approach to generate a ""big picture"" of this industry and unprecedented insights into the global traditional pharma market, which despite its growing relevance and popularity remains poorly understood.
This project will be based at the AAS’s Institute for Social Anthropology, carried out by an international team of 4 post-doctoral researchers, and involve 54 months of multi-sited field research. Besides numerous publications, 2 international workshops and 1 conference will be organized to present the results. While interdisciplinary, the research will be grounded in the field of medical and socio-cultural anthropology."
Fields of science
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