Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Examining the role of traditional health networks in the Karen self determination movement along the Thai-Burma border : examining indigenous medical systems and practice among displaced populations along the Thai-Burma border
Author: Neumann, Cora Lockwood
ISNI:       0000 0004 5369 769X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), by 2012 there were 15.4 million refugees and 28.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) forced to flee their homes due to war or violent conflict across the globe. Upon arrival in their host settings, forced migrants struggle with acute health and material needs, as well as issues related to identity, politics, power and place. The Karen ethnic minority of Burma (also known as Myanmar) has been involved in a prolonged civil conflict with the Burmese military government for nearly six decades. This fighting has resulted in massive internal displacement and refugee flight, and although a ceasefire was signed in 2012, continued violence has been reported. This study among the displaced Karen population along the Thai-Burma border examines the relationships between traditional – or indigenous – medicine, the population's health needs, and the broader social and political context. Research was conducted using an ethnographic case-study approach among 170 participants along the Thai-Burma border between 2003 and 2011. Research findings document the rapid evolution and formalisation of the Karen traditional medical system. Findings show how the evolutionary process was influenced by social needs, an existing base medical knowledge among traditional health practitioners, and a dynamic social and political environment. Evidence suggests that that Karen traditional medicine practitioners, under the leadership of the Karen National Union (KNU) Department of Health and Welfare, are serving neglected and culturally-specific health needs among border populations. Moreover, this research also provides evidence that Karen authorities are revitalising their traditional medicine, as part of a larger effort to strengthen their social infrastructure including the Karen self-determination movement. In particular, these Karen authorities are focused on building a sustainable health infrastructure that can serve Karen State in the long term. From the perspectives of both refugee health and development studies, the revival of Karen traditional medicine within a refugee and IDP setting represents an adaptive response by otherwise medically under-served populations. This case offers a model of healthcare self-sufficiency that breaks with the dependency relationships characteristic of most conventional refugee and IDP health services. And, through the mobilisation of tradition for contemporary needs, it offers a dimension of cultural continuity in a context where discontinuity and loss of culture are hallmarks of the forced migration experience.
Supervisor: Chatty, Dawn ; Bodeker, Gerard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Health (refugees) ; Indigenous peoples ; Development and Refugees (see also Sociology) ; Conflict ; Emergencies and humanitarian assistance ; Livelihoods (refugees) ; Transnationalism and diaspora ; International Development ; Indigenous Medicine ; Traditional Medicine ; Burma ; Ayurveda ; Humanitarianism ; Refugee Studies