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Ethnomedicine and dominant medicine in multicultural Australia: a critical realist reflection on the case of Korean-Australian immigrants in Sydney

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Title: Ethnomedicine and dominant medicine in multicultural Australia: a critical realist reflection on the case of Korean-Australian immigrants in Sydney
Authors: Han, Gil-Soo
Ballis, Harry
Keywords: Sydney
Korean immigrants
alternative health care
hanbang medicine
show 1 moremedical anthropology
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LC Subject Headings: Ethnology
Issue Date: Jan 2007
Publisher: BioMed Central
Citation: Han, Gil-Soo and Harry Ballis. 2007. Ethnomedicine and Dominant Medicine in Multicultural Australia: A Critical Realist Reflection on the Case of Korean-Australian Immigrants in Sydney. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 3(1).
Abstract: Background: Viewed through the micro focus of an interpretive lens, medical anthropology remains mystified because interpretivist explanations seriously downplay the given context in which individual health seeking-behaviours occur. This paper draws upon both the interpretivist and political economy perspectives to reflect on the ethno medical practices within the Korean-Australian community in Sydney. Methods: We draw on research data collected between 1995 and 1997 for an earlier study of the use of biomedical and traditional medicine by Korean-Australians in Sydney. A total of 120 interviews were conducted with a range of participants, including biomedical doctors, traditional health professionals, Korean community leaders and Korean migrants representing a range of socio-economic backgrounds and migration patterns. Results and Discussion: First, the paper highlights the extent to which the social location of migrants in a host society alters or restructures their initial cultural practices they bring with them. Second, taking hanbang medicine in the Korean-Australian community as an illustrative case, the paper explores the transformation of the dominant biomedicine in Australia as a result of the influx of ethnomedicine in the era of global capitalism and global movement. Conclusion: In seeking to explain the popularity and supply of alternative health care, it is important to go beyond the culture of each kind of health care itself and to take into consideration the changes occurring at societal, national and global levels as well as consequential individual response to the changes. New social conditions influence the choice of health care methods, including herbal/alternative medicine, health foods and what are often called New Age therapies.
Description: Refereed
ISSN: 1746-4269
Appears in Collections:Mana'o - Asia-Pacific Region Collection

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