Alternative therapies, once the province of the hippie counterculture, are now a mainstream phenomenon. But they are more than a medical and economic sensation. At once spiritual and bodily, medical and recreational, they are an enormously popular cultural practice bound up with the pleasure-seeking drive of consumer culture as well as with spiritual and neo-liberal values.Complementary and Alternative Medicine critically examines this phenomenon - which some denounce as the triumph of superstition over reason - by asking practitioners themselves what makes these therapies so appealing.Drawing on a wealth of interviews with Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners as well as on the author's longstanding participation in CAM culture, the book provides a much needed look from both the inside and the outside of the CAM phenomenon. This book is essential reading for students and scholars of cultural studies, anthropology, sensory studies and sociology.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: IntroductionChapter 2: Vision: The Power of SightChapter 3: Sound: Good VibrationsChapter 4: Touch: Knowing Touch: BodyworkChapter 5: The Sixth Sense: IntuitionConclusionBibliographyIndex
Ruth Barcan is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney. She is the author of Nudity: A Cultural Anatomy (Berg, 2004).
"What a marvellous book this is - insightful, well-researched, critically-minded, yet also personal and empathic. Barcan helps us 'rethink the body' through a brilliant examination of practices in alternative medicine, viewed through the lens of cultural studies, the history of philosophy/psychology, and experiential accounts. The product is that rarest of things - a work of comprehensive scholarship that is also a compelling read. - Drew Leder, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola College, Maryland, US Ruth Barcan offers the first book-length ethnography of a subaltern or alternative sensorium. She describes in vivid detail the challenge to the dominant sensory model of Western society presented by the practitioners and consumers of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), who differ - sometimes widely and often wildly - from the larger society regarding the values and uses of the senses ... Reading this book is to join in a profoundly liberating exercise in the education of the senses. - David Howes, Professor of Anthropology, Concordia University, Canada"