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15 | Fluid Boundaries in Asian Medical Traditions: Between Text and Practice

This panel considers the ways disciplinary boundaries both inform and challenge understandings of South Asian medical traditions. How do ethnography and philology as methods and skills both portray and shape the relationship between texts, knowledge, theory and practice in these traditions?


· Barbara Gerke University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)
· Calum Blaikie University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)


· 07/27 | 13:30-15:00 UTC+2/CEST
· 07/27 | 15:30-17:00 UTC+2/CEST

Long Abstract

This panel invites presenters from various backgrounds to consider together how disciplinary boundaries define, shape and challenge understandings of medical traditions in South Asia. More specifically, we seek to explore the boundaries between philology and ethnography, as well as the many dynamic interactions between them. Closely related yet in some ways contradictory, these methodologies and perspectives prioritise quite different sources, skill sets, analytical approaches and writing styles, the boundaries between which may variously be considered productive, enriching, artificial or limiting. 

How to better harness their collective strengths in order to further understanding of relationships between texts, knowledge, theory and practice in Asian medical traditions? How to overcome the Cartesian dichotomies that still inform our definitions of such categories? When, why and how do ethnographers read texts, or philologists observe/work with practitioners? How can these methodologies be combined so as to enrich our work as individuals, in teams, at conferences, and in co-authored publications? How to bridge the gaps between premodern writings and the (post)modern predicaments facing contemporary practitioners relying on such texts, as well as the researchers translating and interpreting them? 

We invite papers from anthropological and philological perspectives, across the disciplines of South Asian Studies, Indology, Tibetan Studies, Anthropology, History, Political Science and Religious Studies, to debate and share experiences concerning disciplinary boundaries, fluidity, and the relationship between medical texts and practices.