The Healing Power of the Gift Healing Services and Remuneration in Rakhine (Western Myanmar)

Based on data that have been collected during several field trips to Rakhine State, this article describes the way the movements of services and goods in the healing sector take place and are interpreted by local people and outlines the factors underlying these performances and interpretations and t...

Full description

Saved in:  
Bibliographic Details
Published in:Religion compass
Subtitles:Special Issue: Comparative anthropology of Buddhist transactions: moving beyond the Maussian terminology of the "gift."
Main Author: Coderey, Céline
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Check availability: HBZ Gateway
Journals Online & Print:
Drawer...
Published: Wiley-Blackwell [2015]
In: Religion compass
Year: 2015, Volume: 9, Issue: 11, Pages: 404-422
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
doi
Description
Summary:Based on data that have been collected during several field trips to Rakhine State, this article describes the way the movements of services and goods in the healing sector take place and are interpreted by local people and outlines the factors underlying these performances and interpretations and their meaning with regard the healing process itself. Although from an etic point of view, most transfers that take place in the healing sector represent an exchange - provision of service vs. remuneration - from a local point of view, this interpretation is valid only for a restricted number of transfers - mainly those that occur in the modern medical sector. Otherwise, in traditional sectors, people generally recognize this exchange dimension as having only a secondary role when they are not hiding or denying it. Here, the prevailing concept is a succession of gifts that are provided out of loving-kindness and generosity. Healing is sometimes perceived simply as an act of loving-kindness sometimes even as a dana, while remuneration is understood as an expression of gratitude and respect (kadaw) for the healer and their knowledge but also as an act of loving-kindness and generosity performed as a spontaneous reflection to the healer's act of loving-kindness and generosity. However, since Buddhism is predominant in Rakhine society and culture, even though healing in the modern therapeutic sector is mainly performed as a (remunerable) service, it is nevertheless apprehended through the Buddhist logic. Indeed, in resisting changes and the complexification of the health sector and the emergence of modern biomedicine, the concept of a donation ideally performed out of generosity and loving-kindness is the reference in relation to which all healing interactions are evaluated and judged. The dana and kadaw practices and the virtues of loving-kindness and generosity represent the cornerstone of the system and reinforce the harmonious articulation between Buddhist, social, economic, and therapeutic logics: by helping to increase the patient's karma as well as the healer's respectability and efficacy while at the same time contributing to the latter's subsistence, they ensure the perpetuation of social, spiritual, and therapeutic relations between healers and patients. And yet, despite the pivotal roles played by Buddhist concepts and values and, more generally, the dominant position of the Buddhist logic, the others' logics at play maintain a certain degree of independence and do sometimes dominate. This goes towards explaining that sometimes the act of healing is performed (or is considered to be performed) with no loving-kindness and there is therefore no remuneration at all.
ISSN:1749-8171
Contains:Enthalten in: Religion compass
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1111/rec3.12168