The Intimate Others: The Case of Healers' Practices in a Provincial Philippine City


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  • 親密な他者 : フィリピン地方都市の呪医実践より
  • シンミツ ナ タシャ フィリピン チホウ トシ ノ ジュイ ジッセン ヨリ

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<p>This study aims to examine the issue of recognition and representation of others through a case study of healers' practices in a provincial city in the Philippines. In the study of anthropology, magic and traditional medicine have been considered primitive and irrational topics in comparison with modernity. However, recent anthropological studies on subjects such as "magic and modernity" and "medical pluralism" have positioned magic and traditional medicine in parallel with modernity and modernization. In those recent studies, magic or traditional medicine has been adapted to become a tool of resistance and protest against the values portrayed through modernization. Although these two types of recognition appear to contradict each other, they have a common structure in that they both reinforce the authority of the modern self by searching for others who are either different from us or within us. In this paper, I will define these two continuous recognitions as 'Others I' and 'Others II.' The purpose of this study is to discover the possibility of 'Others III,' or those who evade the subordination of the modern self, by taking examples from a case study that shows healing practices in a provincial Philippine city. Roxas is the capital city of Capiz province in the Philippines, with a population of approximately 120,000. The number of healers in Roxas has greatly increased since the 1980s. During the course of my fieldwork, I found that there are at least 99 healers currently working in Roxas, among whom I interviewed and observed the practices of 26. Healing, which was earlier treated as a part-time, neighborhood, folk medical practice, has been transformed into a full-time professional occupation. Currently, as is the case with other occupations, most of these professional healers receive monetary remuneration. In that sense, healers and their practices are fully situated and blended within the framework of modernity. Healing practices are characterized by various activities, such as healing the sick, offering rites to indigenous spirits, divination by cards, and sorcery practices. Among those activities, the healers I encountered were employing their expertise in healing the sick. According to them, sicknesses caused both by natural and supernatural phenomena are curable through healing methods. The offering rites are also practiced by a large number of healers. The two main purposes of offering animal sacrifices to the spirits are thanksgiving and prayer. Divination by cards is a highly specialized skill traditionally known to be passed down from mentor to student, thereby enabling only a limited number of healers to practice the method. Lastly, most of the healers do not explicitly admit that they practice sorcery; however, there is a thin line between the practice of healing and that of sorcery, and numerous rumors have been spread of healers who practice sorcery for an exorbitant fee. In terms of the relationship with the dominant discourse of modern Philippine society, healers are oppressed and labeled as "heretics" by Catholics and as "quacks" by modern medicine. The following are the dominant reasons why Catholicism considers healers to be "heretics" : (a) relation with indigenous spirits, (b) acceptance of monetary remuneration, and (c) use of methods such as herbal medicine or instruments like talismans. On the other hand, though modern medicine belittles healers as "quacks, " it paradoxically calls for the research and acceptance of herbal medicine for the improvement of modern medicine. Even in light of such oppression from different quarters of modern society, healers have managed to continue their activities under the concepts of staunch "devoutness" to Catholicism and finding "legitimacy" in modern medicine. Healers, most of whom are devout</p><p>(View PDF for the rest of the abstract.)</p>



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