Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Boundaries in Motion: Shifting Categories of Traditional Medicine in Bangladesh

Tue, June 23, 4:05 to 6:00pm, North Building, Floor: 5th Floor, N501


The identities of traditional medicines are linked to their relationships with other medicines, with the institutions and experts that define and create the categories and medicines, and with the practitioners and people who dispense and consume these medicines. In Bangladesh, the pharmaceutical industry and local and global health institutions play a role in the creation and contestation of the boundaries between categories of traditional medicine.

In this paper I examine the material processes of producing and selling traditional medicines in Bangladesh and the ways that the meanings of these processes and related medical categories are signified. Because classification systems are produced through historically and politically contingent processes, what medical categories and practices symbolize and their real material effect on lives is malleable. I explore how Ayurveda, traditional medicine, Unani, allopathic medicine, herbal medicine, and complementary medicine are categorical signs that mark the slippage and contestation between how medicines and associated practices are valued in multiple contexts. I focus on traditional drug company narratives, advertisements, and marketing practices to investigate what categories of medicine mean when they are used in practice by different groups - particularly focusing on traditional medicine companies.