Folklore & Folklife
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Center for Folklore and Ethnography
Graduate Program
Undergraduate Minor
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FOLK 533 401 Folk and Unorthodox Health Systems

David J. Hufford
Seminar: Wednesday: 12:00-2:00
Contact: David J. Hufford; 610-566-8592;

Cross-listed with RELS 505
Undergraduates Need Permission

In 1997 42% of Americans used “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) at least once and spent over $20 billion out of pocket in the process. Since 1993 the National Institutes of Health have had an office, now a national center, devoted to CAM. Very few of the CAM practices getting headlines today are new, and many are very old. A debate rages in medical circles over whether the growing interest in CAM is a blessing or a curse. And patients are largely on their own in making decisions about herbs, energy healing, body work or spiritual practices for health. This course offers students the opportunity to critically examine representative alternative/folk health beliefs and practices and their cultural position in American society. The philosophical and theoretical premises behind these health systems will be analyzed and compared to the premises of conventional, Western medicine and to one another.

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