Social Discord and Bodily Disorders

Healing Among the Yupno of Papua New Guinea

by Verena Keck

Tags: Anthropology, Ethnographic Studies in Medical Anthropology Series, Folklore, Medical Anthropology

358 pp $38.00

ISBN 978-0-89089-404-0
eISBN 978-1-5310-1069-0

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This monograph, which is based on two years of field research carried out in collaboration with medical doctors, explores Yupno conceptions of the link between personal illness and disturbed social relations. Using the sickness and treatment of a small child as a central narrative device, Keck shows how the Yupno chart the onset and course of sickness in relation to imbalances in bodily humours caused by disturbed, burdened social relations. She also compares Yupno ways of diagnosing and treating illness with those of biomedicine—in particular, as these were in evidence in the treatment of the sick child—in order to underscore their specificity, and to show how they link to local conceptions of personhood, emotions, and social equilibrium. This book will be of interest for all scholars working in the field of medical anthropology, and for a general readership interested in Melanesia and the Pacific.

This book is part of the Ethnographic Studies in Medical Anthropology Series, edited by Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh.

"One of the great strengths of this work is the attention given to Yupno notions and concepts presented in the vernacular and, with the aid of a Yupno assistant, given an English gloss. The translations capture a broad semantic range and are used with sensitivity. Scrupulous attention to the meanings attributed to body parts, emotions, and the concept of person, are particularly illuminating." — The Australian Journal of Anthropology

"[A] stellar accomplishment and very important to the literature, not just on Papua New Guinea, but in medical ethnography in general." — The Contemporary Pacific

"This book will be of interest for scholars working in the area of religion and healing and for those concerned with Melanesia and the Pacific. Moreover, it is an important contribution to ethnomedicine that will be most appreciated by those familiar with the anthropological discourse on social relations and kinship." — Religious Studies Review, March 2009