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Title: Exile, social change and medicine among Tibetans in Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), India
Author: Prost, Audrey Gabrielle.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis is a study of the predicaments of exile among Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala. It examines the ways in which structural and cultural factors linked to exile underpin local understandings of health and the provision of healthcare. The study demonstrates that exile uncertainty is reflected in illness explanatory models put forward by Tibetan refugees, and in the organisation of healthcare provision in Dharamsala. The first part of the thesis. (Chapters 2-3) is an account of changes in social organisation and economic strategies as a consequence of exile. Chapter 2 looks at transforming social networks in relation to exile identity politics and economic strategies. I discuss societal tensions within the Tibetan refugee community, principally in relation to the group of `newcomer' (tsar `hyor ba) refugees, and the local Indian community. Chapter 3 focuses on two examples of economic strategies linked to dependency and the predicaments of exile: firstly rags ram, or the sponsorship offered to Tibetans by foreigners, and secondly, `grogsp a, or mutual help and reliance on intra-communal networks of solidarity. The second part of the study (Chapters 4-6) examines how the physical and psychosocial hardships of exile, in addition to social uncertainty, have influenced individuals' understanding of health and disease, and, consequently, the activities and status of the two most prominent exile medical institutions, the Delek Hospital and the Tibetan Astro-Medical Institute (Men-Tsee-Khang). Chapter 5 discusses the rise and institutionalisation of Dharamsala's Men-Tsee-Khang and the systematisation of traditional medical teaching as linked to the predicaments of exile. Chapter 6 provides individual case studies of Tibetan exiles' experiences of illness. Chapter 7 is given over to a discussion of the political significance of discourses relating to physical suffering in the context of exile.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available