20. Medical Pluralism: An Evolving and Contested Concept in Medical Anthropology

  1. Dr Merrill Singer and
  2. Pamela I. Erickson
  1. Hans A. Baer

Published Online: 14 JUL 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444395303.ch20

A Companion to Medical Anthropology

A Companion to Medical Anthropology

How to Cite

Baer, H. A. (2011) Medical Pluralism: An Evolving and Contested Concept in Medical Anthropology, in A Companion to Medical Anthropology (eds M. Singer and P. I. Erickson), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444395303.ch20

Editor Information

  1. Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, USA

Author Information

  1. University of Melbourne, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JUL 2011
  2. Published Print: 8 APR 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405190022

Online ISBN: 9781444395303



  • medical pluralism, evolving and contested concept - in medical anthropology;
  • indigenous or tribal societies, more or less coherent medical system - integral part of larger socio-cultural system;
  • Charles Leslie and medical pluralism - organizational skills, symposium convenor and editor;
  • Leslie, recognizing that medical pluralism - an ancient phenomenon;
  • biomedicine, referring to itself as scientific medicine;
  • cultural interpretivism, the medical ecology - and critical medical anthropology;
  • folk sector, encompassing healers of various sorts - functioning informally on quasi-legal basis;
  • Japanese religious institutions - catering to health care needs;
  • medical ecologists, or medical anthropologists - biocultural perspective, grappling with medical pluralism;
  • biomedical physicians - interest in Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Charles Leslie and Medical Pluralism

  • Theoretical Perspectives Interpretations of Medical Pluralism

  • The Stance of Various National Socio-Cultural Systems Toward Medical Pluralism

  • Medical Syncretism and the Transnationalization and Globalization of Medical Systems

  • Conclusion

  • References