Currently in Tibet, the traditional medicine known as sowa rigpa is undergoing dramatic processes of scientification, secularization and commercialisation that imply transformations of instruction and education, medicinal production, and patient-doctor re lations. At the same time the Chinese government seeks to establish biomedicine as an integral part of medical practices in Tibet. Today then, there is what I call a 'medical triangle' in Tibet; of multilayered rural practices, secularized urban Tibetan m edicine, and Chinese/Western biomedicine. This project seeks to explore the dynamics of medical pluralism in Tibet, focusing on ongoing rural manifestations of transformations and continuities of medical practices among local doctors and their patients in rural Tibet.
Through a perspective sensitive to both experience and political economy, the project asks: how do medical practitioners and their patients experience, engage in, and transform various Tibetan medical practices and pharmaceutical productio n as these are integrated in to rural areas today? And, further, in what ways can knowledge about these medical processes inform and contribute to the more general questions of how we should conceptualize the ongoing modernisation processes in Tibet under Chinese rule?
The project is built upon 19 months of previous field experience in Tibet, including written and spoken Tibetan language skills. The material will be produced by eight new months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in three different locations; a semi-nomadic village called Gyangkhor, Lhasa, and Dharamsala in India. Fieldwork will be combined with studies of historical material on the processes of change and continuity of medical practices in Tibet.