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?
- Partially professionalized
- Lay heterodox
- Lay practitioner
- Chi / Qi
- 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
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?