Cambodians and their Doctors: A Medical Anthropology of Colonial and Postcolonial Cambodia

  • ID: 1556286
  • June 2010
  • Region: Cambodia
  • 322 Pages
  • Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS Press)
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This is an anthropological study of ‘doctors’ and ‘patients’ in Cambodia. These two categories include the actors within the separate but coexisting medical traditions in Cambodia – the biomedical and the indigenous. Doctors in the biomedical tradition generally seek to cure the physical body, while indigenous medical practitioners seek to heal the social person. Ideally, both strategies for regaining health should be complementary, but medical doctors and indigenous healers have rarely collaborated. This book traces the social, historical, and political circumstances under which these two medical traditions have evolved and the opportunities and constraints which Cambodians have faced and still face when seeking healthcare.

Our study spans the colonial introduction of biomedicine into Cambodia in the late nineteenth century to the present. By anthropological standards this is a rather longue durée, also given that our own observations of Cambodian society go back a mere 13 years, and that most of our informants’ recollections hardly extend further than the 1960s. Our aim, however, is to trace the articulation of the two medical traditions READ MORE >

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Preface vii
Glossary xi
1. Introduction
2. Colonialism and Medicine in Indochina
3. French Medicine in Cambodia
4. The Khmer Rouge Medical Regime and Socialist Health
5. Indigenous Practitioners: Healers, Spirit Mediums and Magic Monks
6. Midwives and the Medicalization of Motherhood
7. Leprosy: Symbol and Social Suffering
8. Contemporary Healthcare Resources
9. Conclusion


Cover: Surgery at a provincial hospital; Performance of a spirit medium
0.1. Map of Cambodia xv
2.1. Adhémard Leclère
2.2. François Baudoin
3.1. Ang Duong Hospital
3.2. Hospital inauguration
4.1. The staff of Calmette Hospital
4.2. DK pharmaceutical laboratory
4.3. The main DK hospital on the Thai border
5.1. Indigenous healer
5.2. Spirit medium
5.3. Monk performing exorcism ceremony
6.1. Indigenous midwife
6.2. New mother resting over the fire
6.3. Maternity ward (nurse)
6.4. Maternity ward (parturient woman)
7.1. Inhabitant of the leprosy village
7.2. Statue of the Leper King
8.1. Pharmacy, a family business
8.2. Large private clinic
8.3. Patient at a private clinic
8.4. Elderly patient at home


2.1. Population and area of French Indochina, 1913
2.2. Population of Cambodia in 1911 and 1921
3.1. Number of consultations at the Mixed Hospital in Phnom Penh, 1908
3.2. Number of patients at the municipal clinics in Phnom Penh, 1911
3.3. Number of consultations at municipal clinics in Phnom Penh, 1911
3.4. Number of consultations at the clinic in Takeo Province, 1913

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The authors are associate professors of anthropology at Uppsala University in Sweden. They have been engaged in the study of Cambodian society since 1995.

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