Mental illness, medical pluralism and Islamism in Sylhet, Bangladesh
This thesis examines the health seeking practices of the mentally ill in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Previous work has suggested that in the Islamic world local traditional healing is being undenriined by the encroaching global forces of biomedicine and orthodox Islam. However, in Sylhet, traditional healing is thriving. Traditional healing may survive for different reasons. For local women, traditional healers may offer a space for ventilating complaints which is not available elsewhere for affluent ex-pats the opportunity to reassert their Bengali identity. Western biomedicine poses less of a threat to traditional healing as it has become incorporated as a Bangladeshi product and perceived as inefficacious, corrupt and hannful. Conversely, the endurance of traditional healing may lie in its ability to adapt and incorporate Western biomedicine. Muslims do not see anything inconsistent in visiting Hindu healers as any healer is simply the medium through which Allah works.