An assemblage of everyday technologies in the practice of western herbal medicine - a photo essay
Keywords:Authoritative knowledge, complementary and alternative medicine, medical diversity, medical legitimacy, technologies, UK
Small, mundane technologies, such as stethoscopes, medicinal bottles, labels, cleaning and dispensing equipment, are integral to the practice of western herbal medicine (WHM) in the UK. A focus on such technologies reveals the dynamic character and porousness of medical systems and allows us to identify cultural interactions. In this photo essay, based on long-term anthropological research, I explore an assemblage of everyday technologies used by WHM practitioners and the ways in which these technologies contribute to shaping diagnostic stories, to performing (bio)medical legitimacy and invoking herbal traditions. The biomedical, herbal and domestic technologies-in-use come into view as vibrant and dynamic objects with highly contingent meanings and identities. Their absorption into this non-biomedical therapy supports the performance of (bio)medical legitimacy, authority, tradition and professionalism, while the use of everyday domestic objects may signal female-coded practices of care. This demonstrates the adaptability of a medical practice situated at the margin of mainstream healthcare and subject to ongoing technological and ideological influence. The strategic integration of this assemblage of everyday technologies into WHM contributes, I suggest, to evoking a competent, trustworthy and time-honoured medical practice, which is simultaneously inscribed with multiple tensions, ambiguities and contestations.
Arnold, D. (2013). Everyday technology: machines and the making of India's modernity. Chicago, IL and London: The University of Chicago Press.
Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: A Political Ecology of Things, A John Hope Franklin Center book. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Berg, M. (1998). Order(s) and Disorder(s): Of Protocols and Medical Practices. In M. Berg & A. Mol (eds.) Differences in Medicine. Unravelling Practices, Techniques, and Bodies (pp. 226-254). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Berg, M. (2004). Practices of reading and writing: the constitutive role of the patient record in medical work. In E. Annandale, M.A. Elston & L. Prior (eds) Medical work, medical knowledge and health care (pp. 25-49). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
Griggs, B. (1997). New Green Pharmacy: The story of western herbal medicine. London: Vermillion.
Harper, D. (2002). Talking about pictures: A case for photo elicitation. Visual Studies 17 (1), 13–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/14725860220137345
Kentley, J., C. Brock, K. Ramamurthy, A. Laird, B. Linhares, and A. Bewley. (2018). Western Herbal Medicine Is a Useful Adjunct to Traditional Dermatological Practice. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 43 (1), 58–60. https://doi.org/10.1111/ced.13229.
Loraschi, A., P. Bellantonio, F. Bortolon, R. Capra, P. Cavalla, G. Costantino, A. Lugaresi, et al. (2016) Use of Herbal Remedies by Multiple Sclerosis Patients: A Nation-Wide Survey in Italy. Neurological Sciences 37 (4), 613–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-016-2519-8.
Martin, E. (2007). Bipolar expeditions: mania and depression in American culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Miles, M. B. and M. A. Huberman, M.A. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis - An Expanded Sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Mukharji, B. P. (2016). Doctoring Traditions. Ayurveda, Small Technologies and Braided Sciences. Chicago, IL and London: The University of Chicago Press.
Mitchell, W.J.T. (1994) Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Newbury, D. (2020). Making Arguments with Images: Visual Scholarship and Academic Publishing. In Pauwels L and Mannay, D. (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Visual Research Methods, (pp 670-681), London: SAGE Publications. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526417015.n43
Nissen, N. (2010) Practitioners of Western Herbal Medicine and Their Practice in the UK: Beginning to Sketch the Profession. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 16 (4), 181–86. https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.06.001.
Nissen, N. (2011) Perspectives on Holism in the Contemporary Practice of Western Herbal Medicine in the UK. Journal of Herbal Medicine 1 (3–4), 76-82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hermed.2011.11.002
Nissen, N. (2013) Women’s Bodies and Women’s Lives in Western Herbal Medicine in the UK. Medical Anthropology 32 (1), 75–91. https://doi.org/10.1080/01459740.2012.674079.
Nissen, N. (2015) Naturalness as an Ethical Stance: Idea(l)s and Practices of Care in Western Herbal Medicine in the UK. Anthropology & Medicine 22 (2),162–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/13648470.2015.1043789.
Nissen, N., Lunde, A., Pedersen, C.G. and Johannessen, H. (2014) The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine after the Completion of Hospital Treatment for Colorectal Cancer: Findings from a Questionnaire Study in Denmark. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (14), 388. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-14-388.
Pink, S. (2007) Doing Visual Ethnography. London: Sage.
Rice, T. (2010). “The hallmark of a doctor": the stethoscope and the making of medical identity. Journal of Material Culture 15 (3), 287-301. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359183510373985.
Ryan, G. W. and Bernard, H.R. (2000) Data management and analysis methods. In N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (eds.) Handbook of qualitative research. 2nd edition, (pp. 769–802). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Scheid, V. (2002). Chinese medicine in contemporary China: plurality and synthesis, Science and cultural theory. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press.
Skovgaard, L., P. H. Nicolajsen, E. Pedersen, M. Kant, S. Fredrikson, M. Verhoef, and D. W. Meyrowitsch. (2012) Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine among People with Multiple Sclerosis in the Nordic Countries. Autoimmune Dis 2012: 841085. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/841085.
Warren, N., R. Canaway, N. Unantenne, and L. Manderson (2013) Taking Control: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Management. Health 17 (4), 323–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363459312460699.
How to Cite
From issue no. 1 2022 and onward, the journal uses the CC Attribution-NonCommercial- Share Alike 4.0 license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) The authors retain the copyright to their articles.
The articles published in the previous 37 issues (From Vol. 1, no. 1, 1999 to Vol. 22, No. 1, 2021, are published according to Danish Copyright legislation. This implies that readers can download, read, and link to the articles, but they cannot republish these articles. The journal retain the copyright of these articles. Authors can upload them in their institutional repositories as a part of a green open access policy.