Injections and the fear of death: an essay on the limits of biomedicine among the Dagomba of northern Ghana
AbstractThis article offers a cultural ("indigenous") explanation of why people in their quest for therapy sometimes reject biomedicine. The argument is that in the current debate over the power of biomedicine, there is a lack of scrutiny of its "failures", i.e. of why people occasionally refuse to accept the offers of biomedicine and its most powerful therapy, injection-therapy. After introducing the problem, the relevant literature and the methods used, the article proceeds by first using historical material regarding vaccination campaigns and the treatment of endemic diseases in Ghana and comparative data from elsewhere in Africa to show that people may be ambivalent and have a mixed view of the power of biomedicine. In the context of their experiences, people (possibly, in particular, older ones) have come to know both the (early) failures as well as the successes of injection-therapy. Turning to the ethnographic present (1990-1997) the record of Dagomba notions of health and illness as well as two cases are analyzed to define this ambiguity also among younger members of Dagomba culture. Thus, the article oscillates between ethnography and history to define people's ambivalence and the conflict between biomedicine and local understandings.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.
Volume (Year): 50 (2000)
Issue (Month): 5 (March)
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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
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