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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

8 - Therapeutic Pluralism under Colonial Rule


The intersection between local demands for therapy and what was on offer in colonial Vietnam gave rise to diverse forms of accommodation, combination, and hybridization. These forms of therapeutic pluralism are at the heart of this final chapter. There is no stable or precise definition of medical (or therapeutic) pluralism. Elements – therapeutic objects, models and representations, symbols, practices – from more than one medical tradition or therapeutic system can be combined, on the basis of ideological, empirical, and/or pragmatic considerations, at the level of individual practices of care, whether synchronously, sequentially, or from one episode of illness to another. Medical pluralism can also characterize specific spatial environments; it can arise from coexistence and interaction at the level of a city or region (that do not necessarily extend elsewhere), or might be defined at the level of a health care policy or system, usually on a territorial scale, for example, of a colony or a nation, either in terms of the orientations and convictions that govern these, or of the forms of care that they provide.