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Public Health, Science And The Economy

The Onto-Politics Of Traditional Medicine In Namibia

Meincke Maylin

Publications of the Department of Politican nd Economic Studies 27 (2015) Development Studies This is an ethnographic and discourse analytical study into teh onto-politics of traditional medicine in Namibia. It seeks to ontologically re-define and re-politicise ’traditional medicine’ and to bring it into the wider global formations of subjects and objects in the field of health, sciences, and politics. This is achieved by decentring and deconstructing ’traditional medicine’ as a folk category. The discourses and practices that shape, make and imagine ’traditional medicine’ at the international, national and individual level are examined and the phantasmagorical and arbitrary character of the various constructions revealed. This thesis argues that ’traditional medicine’ is not a system that consists of traditional healers, their practices and the natural resources they utilise, but it entails practices and discourses of the state, researchers, aid and non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the Namibin society at large. ’Traditional medicine’ is a product of international, national, local and individual utterances and practices, which receives meaning as a traditional knowledge system, or as an anti-witchcraft practice, and which feeds into the imaginary space of a ’developed’ and ’modern’ Namibia.

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