Illness and Healing among the Sakhalin Ainu: A Symbolic Interpretation

Illness and Healing among the Sakhalin Ainu: A Symbolic Interpretation

by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney


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Originally published in 1981, this book explores the issue of how a society understands human illness in the absence of a germ theory. This is done through an interpretation of the illness categories and healing practices of the Sakhalin Ainu, a hunting and gathering people resettled in Japan. The text illustrates how illnesses relate to the Ainu view of the universe and how their medical system is intimately interwoven with their moral cosmology and social networks. Even such minor ailments as headaches and boils are meticulously classified to mirror the classifications of such basic perceptual structures as space and time. With the Ainu medical system as an example, this book probes questions central to research in symbolic, medical and linguistic anthropology, structuralism, and the anthropology of women.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107634787
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 05/08/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 262
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.55(d)

Table of Contents

Preface; Ainu phonemes; 1. Introduction: aims and scope of the book; 2. The Ainu; 3. The ethnomedical approach in anthropology and the Ainu domain of illness; 4. Habitual illnesses; 5. Classification of body-part and skin illnesses; 6. Metaphysical illnesses and their healing rituals; 7. A symbolic interpretation of metaphysical illnesses and healing rituals; 8. Theories in symbolic studies and the Ainu data; 9. Modes of perception and the classification of illnesses: a synthesis; 10. Language and cognition: theoretical and methodological problems in arriving at perceptual categories; 11. Illness, the individual, and society; Appendix A. Details of Ainu habitual illnesses; Appendix B. Beings and objects used in the cures of habitual illnesses; Appendix C. Imu:; Appendix D. Biological, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Ainu; Appendix E. The history of the Sakhalin Ainu; Notes; References; Index.

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