X-Rays, Spirits, and Witches

Understanding Health and Illness in Ethnographic Context

By (author) Julian M. Murchison

Publication date:

25 September 2017

Length of book:

162 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442267398

Based on primary research conducted in Tanzania over the last fifteen years, X-Rays, Spirits, and Witches, provides an ethnography specifically designed for use in medical anthropology classes. The text is organized around four key topics that are recurrent themes in medical anthropology across diverse settings: medical pluralism, illness narratives, embodied experiences of health and illness, and the multilayered ways that power dynamics influence healthcare.
In addition to telling an engaging story of health, illness, and medical treatment as experienced in a real-world setting, the chapters link anthropological terms and concepts to specific events. Unobtrusive in-text definitions as well as a complementary glossary of terms help students recognize and employ the language of medical anthropology. Short pull-out boxes explore key concepts (such as the idea of “the medical gaze”) and highlight for further consideration issues which are of particular relevance in the medical anthropology classroom. Such pedagogical elements are designed to complement but not bog down the ethnography—enabling students to make better connections between real-world research and core textbook concepts.
Murchison’s carefully crafted monograph, based on extensive fieldwork in southeastern Tanzania, blends straight-forward writing and lucid ethnographic case studies with medical anthropology’s conceptual legacy. This engaging work explains and applies terms such as medical pluralism, therapy management, therapeutic itinerary, embodiment, divination, narrative and more in paragraphs comprehensible to undergraduate students and scholars alike. Highly recommended.