The Status of Epistemological Superiority in the Medical Landscape of South Africa

Anna Hupperth

Resumen


The article begins with sketching out narratives around indigenous medicine in South Africa and around its ostensible counterpart ‘modern’, Western medicine. As the former was officially tried to be kept in check by limiting it to its traditional roots, the dissection of the concept of tradition is necessary in order to understand if 'tradition' is really as static as is often assumed. The results clarify that the difference between 'traditional' South African knowledge and 'scientific' Western knowledge is rather a question of narrative than of actual facts. Comparing the legal situation of healers during colonialism and apartheid in South Africa brings to light that the ostensible difference between Western and traditional medicine is of a constructed nature rooted in the different legal treatment of these ways of healing.

The second part of the essay assesses whether the prevailing epistemological superiority of Western medicine during colonialism and apartheid has vanished over time. Doing so requires taking a close look at who is able to produce knowledge, how it can be produced and secured. Knowledge production concepts such as hybridity and creolisation are closely examined, delineated and evaluated. This is necessary to critically discuss the ways in which 'traditional' knowledge is treated by the state and to what extent the existing forms of cooperation between the two medical approaches can be regarded as on eye-level.


Palabras clave


Postcolonial Theory; Knowledge Production; Epistemologies of the South; Hybridity; Creolisation

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Referencias


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HAR2013-43016-P I+D Visualidades críticas, reescritura de las narrativas a través de las imágenes