Wrapping it up

We’re nearly there! The end of the semester is upon us!

I always have grand ideas of a nice, thorough post to tie together our journey through the semester, but, alas, it didn’t happen.

Instead, I’d simply like to thank you for showing up this semester. As an instructor, I asked you to do a lot of experimental assignments in this course. While not all of them were successful, I truly appreciate your effort. 

And, of course, covid-19. Y’all have done a solid job of continuing to show up, communicating with me when you’ve run into issues (personal or technological), and engaging with the material despite the chaos that is the new normal. 

That being said, I have one last request for you. Please take 10-15 minutes to fill out this course reflection survey. Student feedback on the course and my teaching (whether they be glowing reviews or brutally honest in their constructive criticism) is so valuable for me in how I develop as an instructor and how I craft my courses in the next semester. Think of it as paying it forward to the next cohort of students that take my courses. 

I hope this summer brings you all health, comfort, and ease. 

A few quick reminders before I sign off: 

Your Course Reflection Paper is due tomorrow, Sunday May 3rd, by 11:59pm EST. 

All assignment grades, up until this point, have been logged in iCollege. If you see any issues, alert me by Wednesday, May 6th

Complete the course reflection survey by Wednesday May 6th. 


Announcements // April 20 – April 26

We’ve made it! It’s the last week of content for this course, wahooo! 

But of course, before we wrap up, a few friendly reminders of upcoming due dates.

Group Discussions

Group Discussion #6 is due Sunday, April 26th and will cover the topics of Yoga and Indigenous Healing

Midpoint Self- and Peer- Reflection is also due on Sunday, April 26th via iCollege Assignments

Make sure you read the assignment details and understand my expectations for comments on your self- and peer- participation. Reflections that lack detail, or indicate participation by students that were clearly not present, will be returned and a “zero” assigned until the issues are remedied. 

Turn the reflection into individual assignment on iCollege. 


Reflection Journals

Make sure you’ve posted all of your reflection journal entries by Monday, April 27th. There should be four new entries since classes restarted on March 30th. 

If you’d like to make-up for a previously missed reflection, I encourage you to write an additional reflection about the connections you see to the COVID-19 pandemic and topics that we’ve covered in this course. Make sure that your entries are thoughtful and engaged with material that we’ve covered in the course, not simple summaries of your experience.


Course Reflection Paper

The course reflection paper is due Sunday, May 3rd. 

You can find details of the reflection assignment here. Submit your reflection paper as your final entry in your reflection journal (and make sure to title it appropriately!).

April 20 – April 26 // Indigenous Healing and Neoshamanism

This week, our readings parallel those of our last few weeks: first a reading that documents the ethnic and cultural community out of which an alternative healing method arises, and a second reading that discusses the same (or similar) healing modality within the context of the Holistic Health and New Age movements — almost always practiced by middle-class white Americans. 

Dr Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, on her lecture “Historical Trauma: Understanding the Past, Empowering for the Future”

“Native American Medicine” provides important historical context, that of colonization of the western hemisphere and systematic genocide and forced assimilation of Indigenous communities by European-Americans, and how this Intergeneration Trauma effects the health outcomes of current Indigenous Americans. It also discusses the important relationship between Retraditionalization and individual and communal healing for these communities. 

“The New Age Sweat Lodge” discusses just that: the history, typical ritual pattern, and the “healing logic” that informs the use of the ceremonial sweats when practiced within the New Age movement, as well as many of the criticisms aimed at the appropriation of this healing ritual. 


“Native American Medicine: The Implications of History and the Embodiment of Culture”, Wendy M. K. Peters, Julli M. Green, and Pilar E. Gauthier (pg 172-195) – iCollege

  • What do Indigenous cosmologies (creation stories) reveal about their culture, rituals, and worldview? To their understanding and approach to healing and wellness? 
  • How has colonization of the western hemisphere affected the health outcomes of Indigenous communities? 
  • What is “Soul Wound”?
  • What are some of the symptoms of Intergenerational Trauma? 
  • Why is historical context so important for understanding how Intergenerational Trauma impacts Indigenous peoples? 
  • Why was Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart’s research on Intergenerational Trauma so groundbreaking? How did it transform care within Indigenous communities? 
  • How do the course themes of resistance appear in this article? 
  • What is the relationship between Retraditionalization and healing? How is healing defined in this context?
  • Why is cultural competency within the  biomedical healthcare system so important in relation to the care of Indigenous peoples? 
  • What are some examples of culture-based interventions? 
  • What is the relationship between healing and religion in Indigenous communities? Why might they be hesitant to share insight and information about their cultural practices?  


“The New Age Sweat Lodge”, William M. Clements, (pg 143-162) – iCollege

  • What are some of the features of New Age sweat lodges? Why do some of the New Age communities feel the need to keep their “sweat” locations secret?
  • What is a standard pattern for a New Age sweat lodge? (What is the typical “formula” of the ritual?)
  • What critiques have been leveled at the New Age appropriation of sweat lodges? 
  • What function do Sweat Lodges play within Indigenous communities?
  • In what ways is the New Age appropriation of the Sweat Lodge ritual ceremony  harmful to Indigenous communities? 
  • Why aspects of the Lakota Sweat Lodge ceremony lend it to particularly “easy” reinterpretation by New Age communities, as opposed to other forms of Indigenous healing? 
  • What themes in the Sweat Lodge ceremony parallel the spiritual sensitibilies of New Age movement? 
  • In the New Age sweat lodge context, how is “healing” defined? What is healed? How is it healed? 
  • What socio-historical contexts inform the “healing logic” of the New Age sweat lodge?



    • Monism
    • Cosmology
    • Historical Trauma / Intergenerational Trauma
    • Soul Wound
    • Manifest Destiny
    • Epigenetics / Memetic transmission
    • Retraditionalization
    • Culture-based Intervention
    • Medicine people / Shaman
    • Biopsychosocial
    • Sweat Lodge
    • Plastic Medicine Man
    • “Playing Indian”
    • Noble Savage
    • Humoralism
    • Rite of Passage


  • Communitas


  • Mother Earth Ceremonies / Earth People philosophy
  • Healing Logic


Announcements // April 13 – 19

Please see the detailed announcement for the upcoming week: 


Choice Projects

The Choice Projects have been reviewed and grades have been updated via iCollege. If you are interested in individual feedback, please email me directly and I am happy to provide it. 

If for whatever reason you are unhappy with your grade and would like a chance to improve it, I am offering a period of revise-and-resubmit for a higher grade. If you would like to do this, complete the following steps: 

    1. Email me with a request for specific feedback and advice for improvement, 
    2. Complete the edits and revision by Sunday, April 19
    3. Notify me (again via email) that the revisions are complete with details about the changes you made. 


Group Discussions

Group Discussion #5 is due tomorrow (Sunday, April 12th) and will cover the topics of Mindfulness Meditation and Ayurveda. 


April 13 – April 19 // Yoga and the Healing Marketplace

Swami Vivekananda

This week, our readings focus on the development of yoga in the United States from its early modern period as divergent, countercultural practices, to a part of popular culture within the global consumer culture.

What similarities do you see between the postural yoga systems that became so successful, and other CAM modalities we’ve explored this semester. What are they resisting (Culturally? Religiously? Medically?) How do the relate to biomedicine and science? Why are they so appealing (or specifically marketed to) New Agers, and eventually the public at large?

While I’m not formally assigning this reading, if you have a few minutes, I highly recommend you read #Namaslay, or How Black Women Are Using Trap Yoga As a Mode of Spiritual Resistance. In it, you’ll see parallels to other conversations we’ve had about representation within CAM spaces, the spiritual bypassing that happens in many wellness spaces, and how Black women are creatively reinventing wellness practices to meet the needs of their specific community. 

B. K. S. Iyengar


“From Counterculture to Counterculture”, Andrea R. Jain, Selling Yoga (20 – 41) 

  • What was early modern yoga resisting? 
  • What social changes in the middle of the 19th century were important to the context and development of yoga in the US? 
  • Who was Ida C. Craddock? Describe her socio-religious and sexual reform agenda. How does Craddock’s life reflect the development of early modern yoga? 
  • Who was Pierre Bernard? What aspects of early modern yoga does his interpretation of yoga reveal? 
  • How did the religious landscape of the 19th century in the US affect the response to yoga? 
  • Who was Swami Vivekananda? What was his role in the spread of transnational yoga? How did he present Hindu religious and cultural tradition?  
  • What does Jain mean by “yoga from the neck up” and “ascetic, Protestant yoga”? 
  • What is the relationship between global physical culture and the development of modern yoga? 
  • What is the relationship between science and modernity on the development of modern yoga? 
  • What themes / historical patterns define the development of early modern yoga? (late-19th to mid-20th century) 

“Continuity with Consumer Culture”, Andrea R. Jain, Selling Yoga, (42 – 72)

  • What are the three developments that enabled the global popularization of postural yoga? 
  • What does it mean that “consumer choice is a self-conscious process”? How does the consumer-oriented approach to religion effect the development of yoga? 
  • What differentiated preksha dhyana from other forms of Jain asceticism in the 1970’s? 
  • Why were postural yoga systems so successful, while many devotional yoga systems did not? What similar themes do you see between this development and the desires of New Agers and spiritual “seekers”? 
  • How does postural yoga system integrate biomedical language into their practice and marketing? 
  • What was the influence of B.K.S. Iyengar on postural yoga as a body-enhancing system?
  • What does the development of yoga tell us about the history of religion in general? 


  • Heterogenous 
  • Modern yoga
  • Ida C. Craddock
  • Tantric yoga
  • Pierre Bernard
  • Raja yoga
  • Hatha yoga
  • Theosophy
  • Vivekananda
  • Postural yoga
  • Metanarrative
  • Heretical Imperative
  • Bricolage
  • Sheilah-ism
  • Soteriology
  • Modern Soteriological yoga / modern denominational yoga
  • Godmen / godwomen
  • Siddha yoga
  • Preksha dhyana
  • B.K.S. Iyengar

Announcements // April 6 – 12

A few due date reminders for this week: 

Choice Projects

Your choice project is due by this evening, Sunday, April 5th

Make sure you’ve reviewed the assignment descriptions, including the directions for submission. Some assignments simply require text and images, while others you must embed your outside media directly into your dedicated EduBlog page.


Group Discussions

Group Discussion #5 is due Sunday, April 12th and will cover the topics of Mindfulness Meditation and Ayurveda. 


Transplant Ayurveda in the United States

This week’s first reading explores Transplant Ayurveda. In contrast to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Buddhist folk healing, and other Asian ethnomedicine modalities we’ve discussed, Ayurveda’s spread in the United States is related to its specific marketing to and consumption by white Americans, rather than originating in cultural enclaves of Asian-American immigrants and then permeating out (Reddy, 99).* 

*It’s always tricky when running a syllabus for the first time, to notice the gaps and mistakes in reading assignments. I meant to include a reading that focuses on the use of Ayurveda and religious healing within South Asian Indian-American communities, but I included the wrong details and didn’t catch the mistake until it was too late to correct. If you’re interested, you can find the reading posted in iCollege: “Health, Faith Traditions, and South Asian Indians in North America”, Prakash N. Desai, Religion and Healing in America

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

At the center of this reading is the Ayurveda practitioner-providers: should they present themselves as medical practitioners compatible with the biomedical system (and thus pursue licensure), or lean into the metaphysical healing qualities that attract New Age sensibilities (and now the broader public) including a resistance to the medical mainstream, a preoccupation with things deemed “natural”, and a desire for “holistic” approach. 


“Asian Medicine in America: The Ayurvedic Case”. Reddy, S (pg 97-120) – iCollege

  • How does Ayurveda’s development differ from other Asian healing transplants in America? 
  • What are the main influencers on the development of transplant Ayurveda in the US? 
  • What is the main professional dilemma facing Ayurveda practitioners? Describe this dynamic. 
  • What has the West typically focused on in their interest in Asian medicine? What are the critiques of these approaches? 
  • How does classic Ayurveda different from transnational Ayurveda? 
  • Where is transnational Ayurveda usually accessed (located)? Why? 
  • What elements of the holistic health movement influence the development of transplant Ayurveda? What connections do you see to our past readings? 
  • How do legal issues related to the “unlawful practice of medicine” effect how transplant Ayurveda is practiced? How it presents itself?
  • How have different Ayurveda practitioners circumvented medical licensing issues? 
  • Describe the four subtraditions, which aspect of Ayurveda they focus on (meditation, massage, religious healing, etc), and its effect on how they approach licensure. 
  • How does the theme of resistance emerge in the practice and representation of transplant Ayurveda?



  • Transplant / Transnational Ayurveda
  • Classic Ayurveda
  • Materia medica
  • Humoral diagnostics
  • Tripartite system

Announcements // March 30 – April 5

I hope the break gave you time to rest, reorient, and take care of yourselves and your families. 

Before we launch back into the course, if you haven’t already, take a moment to read the previous announcement regarding the mid-semester updated syllabus. It includes information about our revised reading schedule, adjustments to course assignments, and other important announcements about the semester moving forward. 

And a few further updates: 

Group Discussions

Grades for the group discussion are up to date. I did not have time to give individual feedback on each student’s participation, but if you have questions about how you could improve your grade moving forward, please email me. 

Also a note on understanding the point value on discussion grades: our mid-semester feedback grade may feel low (say if you got 60/70), but points were given based on what your overall score would be. Therefore, if you’ve participated in the first three group discussions but have a bit of room for improvement, your total score would be 90/100 (30/30 for individual group discussions, 60/70 for mid-semester feedback). Again, email me directly if you need further clarification. 

Group Discussion #5 is due Sunday, April 12th and will cover the topics of Mindfulness Meditation and Ayurveda. 


Reflection Journals

Reflection Journals (for ⅔ of the semester) have been graded. Check your iCollege email for detailed feedback and tips for how to improve your grade moving forward. 

There are four more reflection journal posts due between now and the end of the semester. They will continue to be due on Sundays, but you are welcome to post your reflections in advance if you read ahead. 

If you’d like to make-up for a previously missed reflection, I encourage you to write an additional reflection about the connections you see to the COVID-19 pandemic and topics that we’ve covered in this course. A few potential reflection topics: 

    • how complementary and alternative medicine practitioners are approaching wellness during this period, 
    • the concept of “legitimacy” when it comes to CAM practices and COVID-19 (which CAM providers consider themselves “essential” medical providers, and does biomedicine / government view their role differently), 
    • people selling alternative (and questionable, if not outright morally corrupt) “cures”,
    • the role of Indigenous healers during this period,
    • connections you’ve noticed between your personal experience of the pandemic and our course themes


Choice Projects

Your first (and now only) choice project is still due on Sunday, April 5th.

I haven’t had a chance to check up on the progress you may have posted over the break, but I will be working on that this week so make sure you’ve updated your project page to your most up-to-date draft. If you need immediate feedback, email me directly (and be sure to include the link to your page where I can see your project). 

Remember that because I’ve reduced your workload to one project and extended the deadline multiple times, I expect excellent work. This is not a project that you can leave until the last minute, especially if you are integrating (new-to-you) technology.

While you’re working on your project, I suggest you take a look at the Project Progress tracking sheet and check out the work of other students tackling the same project-type. This can help you with inspiration (should you feel stuck or confused), but also gives you a community resource of people to reach out to should you run into technical difficulties. 


Course Reflection Paper

In lieu of a second project, students will write a three page (750 word) paper exploring course themes, new perspectives gleaned, and general reflections from the course experience. 

You can find details of the reflection assignment here (home page > course documents > course reflection paper). 

 The course reflection paper is due Sunday, May 3rd. 


Reading Prompts: 

Reading prompts will now be updated in advance and posted here (home page > reading schedule > reading prompts), should you choose to get ahead.


March 30 – April 5 // “Protestant” Buddhism and Mindfulness Meditation

In addition to touching on the above themes, this week’s readings focus specifically on the history of Buddhist meditation and mindfulness movements, as well as folk Buddhist healing traditions in the United States. 

The first reading, “When Mindfulness is Therapy: Ethical Qualms, Historical Perspectives” discusses the historical contexts and cultural movements that influenced the development of mindfulness practices in the United States, including Eastern religious figures (DT Suzuki, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Thich Nhat Hanh), the role of psychoanalysis and eventual medicalization of the practices (Relaxation Response and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), and the critiques that arise when religious practices become decontextualized, (over)simplified, and reappropriated for a secular marketplace. 

It is critical reading for understanding how a religious practice typically associated with non-dualist Buddhist and Hindu traditions (Japanese Zen, Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen, and Theravada Vipassana), transitioned to a therapeutic medicalized practice, and finally to a pop-culture consumer commodity that touts benefits ranging from calmer, more engaged students, more efficiency in the corporate work setting, and even better sex. 

The second reading, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine in America’s New Buddhisms”, echoes points similar to those raised in the readings on TCM. In highlighting the disparate Buddhist communities in America (ethnic / culture Buddhists and convert Buddhists), Numrich discusses how each community approaches Buddhist CAM practices and folk medicine, including herbalism, spiritual / ancestral healing practices, and meditation. In highlighting each communities’ approach and understanding of each Buddhist healing practice, Numrich illustrates the divergent trajectories of their use of CAM, as well points where they overlap – and why. 


“When Mindfulness is Therapy: Ethical Qualms, Historical Perspectives”, Anne Harrington and John D. Dunne, American Psychologist (iCollege)

  • What is mindfulness?
  • Who is DT Suzuki, and what was his role in bringing Buddhist meditation to the US?
  • What was Suzuki’s view on the medicalization of Zen meditation? 
  • How did Suzuki’s experience within the United States effect the language in which he presented Zen?
  • Who is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and what was his role in the development of how meditation is practiced in the 1960s? 
  • What is Transcendental Meditation? What benefits did it tout? 
  • What is the Relaxation Response? How was it discovered?
  • Who is Jon Kabat-Zinn? What was his background and why was it important in his approach to meditation in a clinical setting? 
  • What is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and what Buddhist practices does it pull from? 
  • To whom did Kabat-Zinn want to tailor his clinical practices to? Why? 
  • What was the effect of Thich Nat Hanh’s endorsement of Kabat-Zinn’s book?
  • What are some of the criticisms of MBSR, reformist Zen and other non-dualist approaches to meditation?


“Complementary and Alternative Medicine in America’s New Buddhisms” (342-358), Paul David Numrich, Religion and Healing in America (iCollege)

  • What types of American Buddhists does Numrich identify? How did the various communities within this overarching framework develop historically?
  • What are some of the CAM modalities discussed in relation to American Buddhism?
  • What are some of the distinguishing characteristics of each? How does each community relate to CAM modalities?
  • How do generational dynamics and acculturation affect the use of Buddhist folk healing? 
  • How do the types of American Buddhists relate to each other? 
  • What are the communities’ trajectories overall? In relation to folk medicine / herbalism? To meditation?


  • Mindfulness
  • Zen Buddhism 
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Relaxation Response
  • MBSR
  • Non-dual Buddhism
  • Vipassana meditation
  • Mahamudra
  • Dzogchen
  • Engaged Buddhism
  • Therapeutic mindfulness
  • Culture Buddhist
  • Convert Buddhist

COVID-19 Contingency Plans and Updated Course Schedule 

First of all, I hope you are all safe and stable, and this update finds you in good health. These can be anxiety-inducing times, so please remember to take good care of yourself: 

drink water, rest, and connect with loved ones

and wash your hands

In light of the campus closure and course cancellation for the next two weeks (March 13* – March 29), I have adjusted a number of items on the course syllabus.

* Note: Discussion Notes #4 is still due by Sunday, March 15th

If you have not yet met with your group to discuss the readings from Week 8 + 9 and are unable to do so between now and Sunday, please email me directly.   

Please read this updated syllabus carefully and let me know (via comments or email) if you have any questions or concerns.

(Announcement continued below attachment)  


Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab



I will continue to be actively engaged with the course despite classes being cancelled. I’ll be spending the next two weeks getting all grades up to date, giving feedback on projects, and preparing materials for the remainder of the semester (so that should students choose, they can complete the remaining course material in advance).   

I understand that many students will take this time to rest and be with family, while others will focus on finishing as much course material as possible (so that when classes are back in session this course is one less thing to worry about). I support whichever route you decide to take. 

In terms of my own schedule, I will be available to answer emails or set up video conference-calls between 1:30 – 3:00pm or after 8:00pm EST. 

While our course is a little easier to manage because we’re already online, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you manage the rest of the semester.

As I’m sure you’re aware, these adjustments are difficult for all involved: students and their families, university staff, and instructors. Please practice kindness and compassion for all those around you, and we’ll get through this (coronavirus, the anxiety, and the social disruptions) together as a community.

And for a little bit of levity (and connection to current events and our course…)  

Week 9 : Traditional Chinese Medicine in America: Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture

In this week’s readings, we’re finally starting to get into the some of the more interesting topics of modern CAM, specifically those healing modalities that originate in the East. In all of these readings, I want you to keep an eye to a few different dynamics:

  • What is involved in the practice? What happens in the healing session? Who is the healer, and who is healed? What are the religious background and philosophical understandings that inform the healing modality?
  • How does the originating community understand, view, and practice the healing modality (ex: Chinese-American practicing TCM)?
  • How do outside communities relate to the healing (white New Agers, etc) 
  • How has biomedicine reacted to the healing system (Ignored? Supported? Appropriated?)
  • What power structures are at play in the consumption of the CAM modality, especially in relation to race, ethnicity, and other forms of minority identity? 

In terms of this week’s readings, Multicultural Approaches to Health and Wellness in America gives good background of what is involved in TCM and how it historically developed in the US. 

(I’m removing the other reading Nature Cures: The Holistic Health Explosion: Acupuncture (only 257-270) chapter from this week’s assigned reading because  Multicultural Approaches does a much more thorough job) 

That being said, I really want you to focus on the argument Barnes makes in the chapter “Multiple Meanings of Chinese Healing in the United States”. It will likely make some people uncomfortable and force you to think about the power dynamics of cultural appropriation when it comes to the consumption of CAM in the American spiritual marketplace. There are a lot of reading prompt questions, and it’s important that your group really dive into the argument (and reflect this) in your Discussion Notes #4.

It’s also important that I highlight the definition of cultural appropriation (rather than cultural exchange) that we use in this course.

Maisha Z. Johnson, in her article for “What’s Wrong With Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal It’s Harm” describes cultural appropriation as

“a particular power dynamic in which members of the dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group

That’s why cultural appropriation is not the same as cultural exchange, when people share mutually with each other – because cultural exchange lacks that systemic power dynamic.

It’s also not the same as assimilation, when marginalized people adopt elements of the dominant culture in order to survive conditions that make life more of a struggle if they don’t.” 



Group Discussion #4 is due on Sunday, March 15th and should covered readings from Week 8 and 9. 



There has been a bit of confusion about the due date for the Choice Project assignment. Because I was late in getting details to you, I moved the first due date to Sunday, March 22nd. I apparently didn’t update all of the documents to reflect the change; my apologies for this confusion. 

If you have already submitted your assignment, I will work on commenting on your work and note any gaps I see. You are welcome to adjust your assignment based on the feedback to ensure a higher grade. 

If you are still in progress on your progress, I will be working on giving you feedback (via comments on your EduBlog project pages). You should be working on a draft of your assignment and keeping this work up to date in your project page.

The next steps will be finalizing your text and transferring / integrating your information to a platform of choice (assuming that you continue to work on your project over spring break). 



Over break I plan on catching up on grades. Keep an eye on your iCollege mailbox for an email that includes feedback on your Group Discussion participation and EduBlog reflection journal.



Nature Cures: The Holistic Health Explosion: Acupuncture (only 257-270)

Multicultural Approaches to Health and Wellness in America, Chun Nok Lam and Soh-Leong Lim, “Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Healing Approach from the Past to the Future” – iCollege

    • Describe the philosophical principles that are the foundation of TCM. 
    • How does TCM understand health and wellness? What causes illness? 
    • Describe the TCM diagnostic process. 
    • What modalities are included in the TCM healing system? 
    • What about these approaches to healing mirror the values of CAM healing in the 19th century and 1970’s?
    • What are some of the factors that lead to Chinese-Americans to under utilize healthcare in the US? 
    • What are some of the problems with the biomedical standard of the double-blind clinical trial when it comes to analyzing the effectiveness of acupuncture and herbal medicine? 
    • What is the current relationship between TCM and the biomedical establishment? 


“Multiple Meanings of Chinese Healing in the United States”, Linda L. Barnes, (pg 307-331) – iCollege

    • What does Barnes mean by a “racialized framework”? What does she mean by the “Eurocentric polarities of race”? 
    • What qualifies as “religion” in the West? Describe the concept of “a philosophy / way of life, not a religion”. How has this effected the West’s interaction and understanding of  Eastern and Chinese religious systems? 
    • In most cultures (outside of Protestant Chrisitianity in the West), religion, culture and healing are inseparable. How do you see this reflected in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
    • If you plan on visiting an acupuncturists for your “attend a healing” project, do you notice any of the iconography and material culture described on page 213-313? 
    • What parallels do you see between the white American consumers of TCM and our previous readings on the Holistic Health Movement and New Age religious movements? 
    • Draw out (visually represent) the continuum of conversion and appropriation described by Barnes.
    • What is the connection between “vitalism” in American CAM, New Age “universalism” and American understandings of Eastern philosophical terms such as prana, qi, etc? How does this relate to appropriation of CAM healing? 
    • What are the parallels between New Age appropriation and colonial exploitation? 
    • What was the role of the Chinese government in transforming TCM and merging it with the biomedical model? 
    • What is the dynamic between appropriation and power structures when it comes to TCM? Why is it that it is considered cultural exchange when minority cultures borrow and infuse different healing systems, but cultural appropriation when white (dominate) communities act similarly? Hint: imbalance of power (see page 327 and linked article defining cultural appropriation) 

Choice Project: next steps and point value adjustments

Today I commented on all of your individual Choice Assignment pages. Please take a moment to look at my comments. Generally, the feedback and tasks for this week include: 

Curate Content Assignment – Start collecting potential resources and posting them into your project page (in draft form). Also include quick notes about what each source contains content-wise, and link to the website or GSU catalogue permalink. I will comment with gaps and any potential issues I see

Expand a Topic – Start collecting potential resources and posting them into your project page (in draft form). Also start thinking about the flow and topics that your article will cover (ex: Background overview, specific context, subsections)

Attend a Healing Session – On your project page, list the name of the healing business you plan to attend, the scheduled date, and other pertinent details. If you’re planning to attend an Acupuncture or Traditional Chinese medicine session, make sure you’ve read Week 9’s course content before you go. I suggest you attend no later than March 13th to give you plenty of time to attend, reflect, write and post your assignment. 



The “star” values of the “Interactive Timeline” and “Multimedia Presentation” are now worth four stars (☆☆☆☆) instead of two.

I think many of you were opting out of that option because it required both assignments, and that was not a reasonable expectation on my end. Please give these assignments a second look and see if they spark your interest. 

If they do, and you’d like to switch the first project (that I’ve already commented on), please email me directly and then make the changes on your EduBlog. If you decide to tackle either of those projects for the second portion of the class, there’s no need to confirm with me. 

I hope you find this helpful, and thank you for being flexible with me while I figure out this project dynamic!

Week 8: The Development of Contemporary CAM

We’ve made it halfway through the semester! Keep up the good work y’all! 

Last week our readings focused again on fleshing out Baer’s theory of understanding CAM modalities as sites of resistance (to biomedicine and general counter-culture protest movements) and accommodation (through the process of licensure). 

While Baer’s chapters and articles typically focus on the majority of CAM users (white, upper-middle class women), the supplemental chapters last week explored CAM use by cultural and ethnic minorities and what potential experiences might inform these decisions. As you could tell from the slightly different conclusions from these chapters (based on different communities), there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Cultural context and nuanced understandings are always important. That said, it does raise interesting points and I’d like you to keep those findings in the back of your mind as we continue exploring contemporary CAM modalities. 

A quick caution about the reading this week: it is a bit dull (sorry!). It’s filled with acronyms for different CAM associations, institutes and universities. I’m much less concerned about the specific dates and names, and more about the general process and dynamics each healing system has with biomedicine and licensing. I’d also like you to focus on how healing is approaches by each of these systems in a modern context (ex: early Chiropractic vs contemporary manifestations), as Baer gives quick overviews of the systems that many of you will be attending in the coming weeks. 



Tuesday, March 3rd (tomorrow) is the last day to drop the course for a W (withdrawal). If you’re having issues keeping up with the course, please reach out to me tomorrow. I may be able to help you navigate the rest of the semester, but I also may suggest that you withdraw and try again next semester. 



Tomorrow I expect to spend time working through your reflection journals and commenting on your Choice Projects. Make sure you’ve included as much information as possible, including:  issues that you’ve encountered, where you are in the process, what steps you plan on taking next and potential timelines for each step completion. 

Also something to contemplate: have you thought about how you’ll schedule work on your project given that it’s due right after spring break? Would you rather get it done so you can relax over break, or do you use Spring Break as a time to catch up on all your class work? No judgement here, I just want you to be honest with yourself and how you work as a student. 



Toward an Integrative Medicine: Chapter 2: The Semi-Legitimation of Four Professional Heterodox Medical Systems (pg 25-56)

  • What does it mean to be “professional” in the context of CAM? To be “legitimate”? 
  • What does Baer mean by “semi-legitimation”? 
  • What is the stated purpose of licensure (according to biomedicine associations) and what are it’s unintended consequences?
  • Describe the differences of “mixers”, “specialists” and “drugless general practitioners” in the Chiropractic context. If you’ve seen a chiropractor for an adjustment before, which did they most resemble? How could you tell? 
  • Describe the process of emergence, decline, and rejuvenation of American naturopathy. Why was naturopathy so well suited for a revitalization starting in the late ‘70s ? 
  • Describe modern homeopathy. 


Toward an Integrative Medicine: Chapter 3: Partially Professionalized Therapeutic Systems: The Struggle for Legitimacy (pg 57-88)

  • What does Baer mean by “partially professionalized” CAM systems? By “lay heterodox”?
  • What are the general steps that each CAM system goes through in the process of professionalization? 
  • How do “Traditional Naturopaths” distinguish themselves from (and critique) other forms of naturopathic healing? 
  • Although there is little ethnographic research on herbalist healers, where do preliminary studies reveal they operate out of? (in other words: if you are going to see an herbalist, where do they work?)
  • Instead of medical jargon (such as patients, healer, treatment, etc), what kind of language do herbalists use in reference to the people they provide service to? Why is this? 
  • How is Ayurveda different from other forms of Asian medical transplants? 
  • Why is lay midwifery included in Baer’s discussion of alternative healing?



  • Semi-legitimate
  • Partially professionalized
  • Lay heterodox
  • Lay practitioner
  • Sanitaria
  • Chi / Qi
  • Midwifery
  • Hostile Licensure

I also wanted to take a moment to include the overlap that I see in my social media consumption (Instagram) and the content that we’re discussing in class. In a few sentences in this chapter, Baer briefly alludes to a dynamic (which can be applied in other instances we’ve discussed in this course) in which middle-class white women consume healing modalities as though it were either a novel and new development (or the opposite, that they’re tapping into an “ancient” universal practice”, that are common-place to peoples of color. His text reads: 

“Cobb delineates four types of birth attendants in the United States: (1) obstetricians; (2) nurse-midwives; (3) lay “granny” midwives, who historically were particularly predominate among African Americans in the South; (4) and “modern lay midwives,” who emerged out of the feminist and natural birthing movements of the late 1960s…As Cobb observes, “at precisely the time when members of low income and rural populations have been persuaded to give up home births, certain segments of white American middle-class are seeking birth at home…” (pg 78-79)

His commentary reminded me of an artist critique (and discussion by an anti-Racist activist / Public Academic) of this dynamic that came through my Instagram feed months ago. 

View this post on Instagram

This week was used widely to acknowledge black maternal health. • On medical racism: “Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel. In one year, that racial gap adds up to more than 4,000 lost black babies. Education and income offer little protection. In fact, a black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education. This tragedy of black infant mortality is intimately intertwined with another tragedy: a crisis of death and near death in black mothers themselves. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality — the death of a woman related to pregnancy or childbirth up to a year after the end of pregnancy — is now worse than it was 25 years ago.” -via: @nytimes • On breastfeeding: “Black women were once considered property, very valuable property during chattel slavery. Not only were black women ripped apart from their families and sold on auction blocks, they were systematically “broken in” by their new slave owners by being raped, then forced to nurse the young babies of the master. They often watched their babies suffer and die of malnourishment as they generously fed the slave master’s babies. Black women were known to be exceptional feeders and breeders. There was an entire market created for “black milk” which sustained this nation. No one can imagine the trauma of what our ancestors must have experienced at the hands of slave masters. But what we do know is that post traumatic slave syndrome is real, and that our collective maternal line has gaping holes that need healing and reintegration when it comes to our bodies.The descendants of these ancestors who endured so much are now ready to heal.” – @glowmaven • First slide art by: @andrearoussos Second slide art by: @chelslarss

A post shared by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle (@rachel.cargle) on

While this post (and the subsequent commentary) isn’t directly related to our course topics, it’s still related to our broader conversations of healing, alternative medicine, and healthcare in America. Taking posts like this as jumping off point, or exploring the connection you see, is an excellent way to reflect on the course material. 

So I’ll also ask you: what kind of media are you consuming outside of institutional education? Is social media simply a platform for sharing beautiful pictures, funny memes and entertainment? Or have you curated a platform that encourages you to dig a little deeper?