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<Invited Articles>Worlding Shiatsu Therapy: Circumventing the East-West Dichotomy in a Comparative Ethnographic Project

DOI HANDLE Open Access
  • Skrivanic Peter
    PhD Candidate, Anthropology doctoral program, University of Toronto, Canada

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  • <依頼論文>指圧治療を地球規模で考える --比較民族学研究における東洋と西洋の二分法の回避


Within the social sciences, Asian medicines emerged as potent rejoinders to early models of globalization which equated it with a one-sided ‘Westernization, ' demonstrating that global cultural flows were multi-directional and could not be assimilated under a ‘West-rest' framework (Hsu and Hoeg 2002; Scheid 2002). Nonetheless, as ethnographers and social scientists began attending to issues in the transmission and acculturation of knowledge within globalizing Asian medicines, a particular pattern became commonly observed: in their countries of origin, medical practices such as ayurveda, shiatsu, or Chinese medicine were increasingly rationalized, while in North American or European contexts they were frequently psychologized or spiritualized (Barnes 1998; Adams 2002; Taylor 2004; Warrier 2009). While such a patterning is quite plausible, if adopted as an analytic frame it could have the effect of reinscribing Orientalist tropes that structure the global field in terms of dichotomized East- West difference. This article, drawing upon my own multi-sited ethnographic study of trainee shiatsu therapists in both Canada and Japan, explores some analytic approaches to help address this concern within multi-sited fieldwork projects that straddle ‘East-West' boundaries. In particular, it describes ways of re-calibrating comparison by attending to multiple productions of difference within and across research sites. It further makes use of Mei Zhan (2009)'s notion of ‘worlding' to examine diverse instantiations of the East-West dichotomy articulated by my informants, and how they are key to the ongoing global production (and transformation) of shiatsu therapy. In this way, the article describes strategies to enable researchers to remain sensitive to the salience of discursive constructs such as the East-West dichotomy to their informants, even as they avoid reproducing them uncritically within their own analyses.


  • いのちの未来

    いのちの未来 1 193-216, 2016-01-15

    京都大学大学院人間・環境学研究科 共生人間学専攻 カール・ベッカー研究室

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