Bio-politics and the promotion of traditional herbal medicine in Vietnam

Ayo Juhani Wahlberg

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    It is often suggested that during the past fifty years, Vietnam has experienced a traditional medicine ‘revival’ that can be traced back to late President Ho Chi Minh’s 1955 appeal “to study means of uniting the effects of oriental remedies with those of Europe”. In this paper, I demonstrate how traditional herbal medicine came to be recruited as an important component of national efforts to safeguard and promote the public health of urban and rural populations in Vietnam. Importantly, this has entailed a rejection of a colonial bio-politics that sought to marginalise and even eradicate “quackery” and “sorcery” in favour of a postcolonial bio-politics that aims to promote the “responsible” and “appropriate” use of traditional herbal medicines. While the Vietnamese case bears many parallels to a number of other countries in this respect, notably China, Vietnam’s ancient history of medicine, prolonged postcolonial isolation and far-reaching health delivery network have resulted in a unique public health strategy that encourages rural populations to become self-sufficient in the traditional herbal treatment of their most common illnesses.
    Udgave nummer2
    Sider (fra-til)123-47
    Antal sider24
    StatusUdgivet - 2006

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