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Healers in Tharaka: a case-study of the development of a professional 'jurisdiction'

Giarelli, G.; (1994) Healers in Tharaka: a case-study of the development of a professional 'jurisdiction'. Doctoral thesis, University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis examines the process of social change among Tharaka agao (healers) in the Meru District of Kenya: it analyzes the rationale of the social and cultural processes involved for an existing occupation to become a recognized professional activity in modern Kenya. The thesis argues that a radical redefinition of professional 'jurisdictions' is required in the medical field. The concept of 'jurisdiction' is discussed here in metaphorical terms in order to question the common assumption that professionalization in the Western-type is the only possible model of development for African healers. The first part of the thesis, after information related to the structural and cultural context of Tharaka, provides an overview of the Tharaka experience of management of illness, with an emphasis on health-seeking behaviour and the division of labour in health care. The second part establishes the cultural boundaries of the healing 'jurisdiction' of the Ugao and the mechanisms used to gain the claimed control over it: this is done by presenting and analyzing the ethnographic material which I collected during a period of apprenticeship with three Tharaka healers. The third part investigates the social dimension involved in the development of that 'jurisdiction', by examining group formation among healers and the problems generated within the emerging profession. It also considers the matter of integration of Tharaka healers within the local health care system through an analysis of their interrelationship with the biomedical personnel and the health care facilities. Finally, it discusses the problem of legitimation the whole process of professional development raises at the local and national level.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Healers in Tharaka: a case-study of the development of a professional 'jurisdiction'
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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